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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    This kind of colletive noun is followed by a singluar verb or a plural verb depending on which country you are from. I learned from here that Americans usually use a singular verb- is, while the British use a plural one - are. What do you think?

    gz80)His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves.

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    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    Yes, that is generally true that Americans regard collective nouns as a singular unit. I'm not sure about your example however, cause you are clearly talking about individual members and not the family as one unit. I'd probably use "are" in that case.

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    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    The answer for the example in my grammar was "are" as it is focused on individual members, treating them as plural. So even for Americans, if a collective noun focuses on individual members, can it use a plural verb?

    ex)His family are always fighting among themselves.

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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    The answer for the example in my grammar was "are" as it is focused on individual members, treating them as plural. So even for Americans, if a collective noun focuses on individual members, can it use a plural verb?

    ex)His family are always fighting among themselves.
    That is what SD suggested.

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    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    The answer for the example in my grammar was "are" as it is focused on individual members, treating them as plural. So even for Americans, if a collective noun focuses on individual members, can it use a plural verb?

    ex)His family are always fighting among themselves.
    Yes. The verb must match the subject. Or how one is thinking about the subject. We think of a "team" as one thing. In BrE, they think of a "team" as many players. But if we are clearly thinking of the individuals separately, then we use a plural verb form.

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    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    What about these two if you are American? Do you think the context clearly tells plural nuance or does it all depend on your judgement?

    1.After the three-hour practice under the brutal sun, the
    team shower, change into their street clothes, and head to their air-conditioned homes.

    2.The jury disagree about the guilt of the accused and have told the judge that they are hopelessly deadlocked.


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    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    What about these two if you are American? Do you think the context clearly tells plural nuance or does it all depend on your judgement?

    1.After the three-hour practice under the brutal sun, the
    team shower, change into their street clothes, and head to their air-conditioned homes.

    2.The jury disagree about the guilt of the accused and have told the judge that they are hopelessly deadlocked.

    The sentences you have quoted can be found on many sites on the internet. If you have found the sites, you have found the opinions. SD's responses will be valid for most questions on this topic. I would give slightly different responses, but I am a native speaker of BrE.

  8. #8
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    With the first example, the decision is made for you by the use of "themselves" at the end. You couldn't follow "is" with "themselves" and find it natural.

    His family is always fighting among themselves.
    His family is always fighting among itself.
    His family are always fighting among themselves.

    I'm sure you'll agree the first two sound very odd.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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    nadd is offline Newbie
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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves

    I would say "His family are always ....." Using "is" in your sentence is a little bit awkward!
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 23-Jan-2013 at 10:10. Reason: Deleting four exclamation marks.

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    Re: His family (is/are) always fighting among themselves


    A year ago, I got an opinion from Barb_D like the following, so I concluded in whatever case, Americans prefer singular forms for collective nouns, but now I get a different opinion from Americans, so I think I'd better adjust to variants. What do you think?

    ================================================== =================
    Barb_D
    In the US, all three of those second set of examples would probably still take the singular verb.

    1. After the three-hour practice under the brutal sun, the team shower, change into their street clothes, and head to their air-conditioned homes.
    2.After the long exam, the class start their research papers on famous mathematicians.
    2.After the long exam, the class start their research papers on famous mathematicians.
    3.The jury disagree about the guilt of the accused and have told the judge that they are hopelessly deadlocked.

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