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    #1

    The police is/are...

    I have been told that it is also correct to say "The police is coming'. But I have been taught and the dictionaries confirm that it should be "The police are...".

    If "police are" is the only correct version, why is this so? Can someone please explain the usage to me.

    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: The police is/are...

    The noun 'police' is plural only.

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    #3

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    The noun 'police' is plural only.
    Thanks, Philo. Do you know why 'police' should be used with a plural verb, eg. The police are coming.? It has baffled me since I came to know of the usage.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    Thanks, Philo. Do you know why 'police' should be used with a plural verb, eg. The police are coming.? It has baffled me since I came to know of the usage.
    "Police" is a collective noun.

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    #5

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Police" is a collective noun.
    Thanks, Bhaisahab. As you said, 'police' is a collective noun. But again, why should it be "Police are ..."? 'Herd' is a collective noun. We can say that the herd is cattle is grazing in the field. (I believe 'are' is also correct.)

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    #6

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    ... 'police' is a collective noun. But again, why should it be "Police are ..."? 'Herd' is a collective noun. We can say that the herd is of cattle is grazing in the field. (I believe 'are' is also correct.) Yes, in BrE.
    That is an interesting point, which had not occurred to me until I read your post. 'Police' is so plural in our minds that we can say "The police are here/coming" even if only one police officer is here/coming; we definitely cannot say "The police is here/coming".

    Later note: I have been hunting. I have not found an answer to ‘why?’, but I have found some other plural-only nouns in Huddleston and Pullum:

    Bipartites: trousers, pants, pliers, scissors, spectacles, …
    Substances consisting of particles: oats, Epsom salts, grits (AmE), …
    Aggregates of entities: clothes, groceries, remains, …
    Uninflected: cattle, poultry, vermin, police
    Others: surroundings, amends, customs (and excise), grounds (of coffee, or of a large house), particulars, …

    Huddleston, Rodney & Pullum, Geoffrey K (2002) The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge: CUP, pages 340-348[/I]
    Last edited by 5jj; 21-Jul-2011 at 10:49. Reason: Additional material

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    #7

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    That is an interesting point, which had not occurred to me until I read your post. 'Police' is so plural in our minds that we can say "The police are here/coming" even if only one police officer is here/coming; we definitely cannot say "The police is here/coming".
    Thanks, Fivejedjon. That means there is no reason for the usage at all. We have to accept that "Police are..." is idiomatic. Am I correct?

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    #8

    Re: The police is/are...

    Yes.

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    #9

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    'Police' is so plural in our minds that we can say "The police are here/coming" even if only one police officer is here/coming; we definitely cannot say "The police is here/coming".
    It is a tremendously plural word- even when uncountable slang terms are used for them, we still go for the plural:
    The filth were there.

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    #10

    Re: The police is/are...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    Thanks, Fivejedjon. That means there is no reason for the usage at all. We have to accept that "Police are..." is idiomatic. Am I correct?
    Not really: to assert that the usage is a matter of idiom would imply that 'the police are..' is simply more natural than 'the police is...' but that the latter would still be "technically" acceptable. It would not!

    The word 'police' simply happens to belong to the class of uninflected plural nouns. It does not require any other 'reason' than that to govern a plural verb!

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