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    #1

    audience pl or sing?

    Hi!
    Do you say "the audience was..." or "the audience were...", or it depends of the way you think about the audience, as a group or as people in the group...
    Thanks!

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    #2

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    According to Michael Swan Practical English Usage (Oxford), "singular words like family, team, government, which refer to groups of people, can have either singular or plural verb forms and pronouns."

    In addition, "plural forms are common when the group is seen as collection of people doing personal things like deciding, hoping, or wanting. Singular forms are more common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit."

    So, the sentences given below are both grammatically correct sentences.

    (1) There was a large audience in tha hall.
    (2) The audience were enjoying the performance.

    In (1) audience is seen as a group ("impersonal unit" in Swan's term), while in (2) audience is seen as a collection of people doing pesonal things (in this case each member of the audience is enjoying the performance personally).

    I hope I have helped you solve your problem.
    Last edited by yamadew; 03-Oct-2010 at 15:19.

  1. riquecohen's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Quote Originally Posted by yamadew View Post
    According to Michael Swan Practical English Grammar (Oxford), "singular words like family, team, government, which refer to groups of people, can have either singular or plural verb forms and pronouns."

    In addition, "plural forms are common when the group is seen as collection of people doing personal things like deciding, hoping, or wanting. Singular forms are more common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit."

    So, the sentences given below are both grammatically correct sentences.

    (1) There was a large audience in tha hall.
    (2) The audience were enjoying the performance.

    In (1) audience is seen as a group ("impersonal unit" in Swan's term), while in (2) audience is seen as a collection of people doing pesonal things (in this case each member of the audience is enjoying the performance personally).

    I hope I have helped you solve your problem.
    Thank you for this post. Let me note that in AmE, collective nouns are generally treated as singular and take singular verbs.

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    #4

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Thank you very much!

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    #5

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    "Let me note that in AmE, collective nouns are generally treated as singular and take singular verbs."

    If you search the NY Times, you will find lots of examples of 'the audience were' So I can't let you note that!! Sorry! (Maybe only Englishmen/women work there, but I doubt it!)

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    #6

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    "Let me note that in AmE, collective nouns are generally treated as singular and take singular verbs."

    If you search the NY Times, you will find lots of examples of 'the audience were' So I can't let you note that!! Sorry! (Maybe only Englishmen/women work there, but I doubt it!)
    he,he

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    #7

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Quote Originally Posted by branka View Post
    Hi!
    Do you say "the audience was..." or "the audience were...", or it depends of the way you think about the audience, as a group or as people in the group...
    Thanks!
    NOT A TEACHER

    (1) I agree with riquecohen that Americans usually prefer the singular:

    The audience was enjoying the performance.

    (2) I think that the plural would be used only if it made common sense:

    The audience were fighting one another (that is, the members of the

    audience were ....).

    (3) I do not read The New York Times, so I found one poster's

    comment very interesting. Of course, The Times does not necessarily

    use the language of "ordinary folks." For example, I think that The

    New York Times still insists on James's house instead of the more

    popular James' house. (I personally agree with The Times's --

    not The Times' -- policy.)

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    #8

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    "Let me note that in AmE, collective nouns are generally treated as singular and take singular verbs."

    If you search the NY Times, you will find lots of examples of 'the audience were' So I can't let you note that!! Sorry! (Maybe only Englishmen/women work there, but I doubt it!)
    Please note that my post referred to collective nouns in general rather than audience specifically. A further search in the NY Times has found the following:
    "The audience doesn┤t feel worlds away."
    "The Boston Symphony (Orchestra)....has begun..."
    "The league (NFL) has made....."
    ""Congress is increasingly paralyzed..."
    "Pavement (the band) doesn┤t have...."

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    #9

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Hey, I didn't say you can't use audience as a singular noun. I did say, it is often used as a plural noun in a bastion of American journalism, most probably by Americans. You seem to think that is not how Americans would use it. I merely wanted to point out, that American journalists do in fact refer to audience in the plural.
    I thought we were talking about nouns which can be used in the singular and the plural, such as audience.
    Does anyone use Congress as a plural noun? ┐┐Congress were convened?? ┐┐Congress have decided?? I'm English, so I reserve judgement on that, leave it to the cousins to decide!

    The orchestra were restive: plural use of a singular noun cf audience.

    The league have decided...: plural use of a singular noun cf audience.
    The band have decided.....: plural use of a singular noun cf audience.

    I thought the question was about nouns, such as audience, which can be used in both as singular and the plural nouns.

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    #10

    Re: audience pl or sing?

    Sorry double post: can't handle computers!

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