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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Is family plural or singular?

    Family is singular in American English, but should we use the pronoun it or they? e.g. "My family lives in California , but it/they used to live in France."
    "It" sounds odd, but how do we justify the switch to the plural "they"?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is family plural or singular?

    I think this is one of the main differences between American English and British English. In American English, words like band, family, ministry are all singular but since they are groups made up of several individuals, you are sometimes forced to switch to the plural.

    U2 is town and I'm definitely going their concert.

    Quote Originally Posted by dremh
    Family is singular in American English, but should we use the pronoun it or they? e.g. "My family lives in California , but it/they used to live in France."
    "It" sounds odd, but how do we justify the switch to the plural "they"?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is family plural or singular?

    Welcome, dremh.

    North American English
    My family (the group as a whole) lives in California now, but they (my Mum, Dad, and brother) used to live in France.

    Referring to your family as "it" isn't recommended.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is family plural or singular?

    Just to clear up one myth: It's not true that British English always uses the plural in cases like this. It depends on whether you are talking about the group as a whole or separate individuals within that group.

    "My family lives in Baltonsborough." The family as a single unit, all the members living under one roof.

    "My family live in towns all over south-west England." The family as a group of individuals, each individual living a separate life in a different town.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is family plural or singular?

    hey, thanks for clearing that up. it makes so much more sense to me now :) so my family live...means my family members live...looking at the individuals

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    Just to clear up one myth: It's not true that British English always uses the plural in cases like this. It depends on whether you are talking about the group as a whole or separate individuals within that group.

    "My family lives in Baltonsborough." The family as a single unit, all the members living under one roof.

    "My family live in towns all over south-west England." The family as a group of individuals, each individual living a separate life in a different town.

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