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  1. #1
    SanMar's Avatar
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    Default Group Nouns- singular or plural?

    I was going to post an explanation on another thread until I realized that I first need some clarification, please.

    I've been taught that group nouns, like family, government ect. can be used with a plural or singular verb conjugation.

    In Canada, in my experience, we use singular more often, although we do sometimes use both:
    The government has decided not to increase taxes this year!
    The Canadian hockey team has won a gold medal.
    also mixing singular and plural...
    My family is very large, and they all live with me in my tiny apartment.

    First, is this accepted in Britain or the US and if so which is more predominately used?

    thanks

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: Group Nouns- singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by SanMar View Post
    I was going to post an explanation on another thread until I realized that I first need some clarification, please.

    I've been taught that group nouns, like family, government ect. can be used with a plural or singular verb conjugation.

    In Canada, in my experience, we use singular more often, although we do sometimes use both:
    The government has decided not to increase taxes this year!
    The Canadian hockey team has won a gold medal.
    also mixing singular and plural...
    My family is very large, and they all live with me in my tiny apartment.

    First, is this accepted in Britain or the US and if so which is more predominately used?

    thanks
    In BrE we use either but not in all cases, take your example of "family"; if we say "My family is very large", the meaning is clearly that there are a lot of people in my family. If we say "My family are very large", we are saying that the members of my family are big in some way.

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    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Group Nouns- singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    if we say "My family is very large", the meaning is clearly that there are a lot of people in my family.

    If we say "My family are very large", we are saying that the members of my family are big in some way.
    This is a great example!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. #4
    SanMar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Group Nouns- singular or plural?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    In BrE we use either but not in all cases, take your example of "family"; if we say "My family is very large", the meaning is clearly that there are a lot of people in my family. If we say "My family are very large", we are saying that the members of my family are big in some way.


    That's really interesting. I don't think I've ever heard "My family are..." to my ear it sounds odd. Here it is only used with is but family is also referred to as they.

    There is nothing logical about the singular or plural use, is there?

    We'd say -My family members are very large, or The members of my family are very large.

    Thanks!

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