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    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 1

    singular or plural?

    Can you help to solve a disagreement over the use of plural and singular?
    In most modern newspapers, teams are referred to in the plural sense. For example: "England are beating Germany 1-0" or "Ford are to axe 1000 jobs" or "Arsenal are third in the league" "The museum team have finished restoration work."
    I had previously understood that terms like "Arsenal" or "the team" - whilst referring to many - is singular and therefore should take "is". However, it appears that in journalism, these terms usually take the plural "are, have..."
    Which is right?
    Many thanks for your help.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: singular or plural?

    The rule is as follows:

    If the group acts in unison, use a singular verb:

    EX: The team [it] is late.
    EX: The family [it] is coming over tonight.

    If the group acts individually, use a plural verb:

    EX: The team [members] are late.
    EX: The family [members] are coming over tonight.

    It's common for British English speakers to use "are" and for American speakers to use "is". The reason being, British English speakers tend to view the group according to the individual contributions of its members; i.e., the team [members] are, whereas American English speakers tend to view groups as a collective whole; i.e., the team [it] is. In short, speakers who share the same language will differ in how they see the world around them; e.g.,

    USA: The team is a unit.
    UK: The team are individuals within a unit.

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