Student or Learner
"A couple was talking about its children". Is this correct?
Unless in the highly unlikely event the couple was speaking of a single parent monster or alien whose gender they couldn't gauge.
Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!
I'd say A couple were talking about their children. That's fine in BrE.
But the original statement is grammatically correct. Isn't it?
In BrE, "couple" leads to some confusing and seemingly contradictory usages.
1. This couple has two children.
2. This couple have two children.
3. This couple are talking about their children.
In the first, the couple is seen as one unit - that unit has produced two children. In the second and third, they are treated as two separate people - each person is a parent of the same two children, and they are both talking about the children they produced.
In BrE, you'll hear both sentences 1 and 2. I don't think you'd hear "This couple is talking about ...".
The other reason that "their" is certainly more natural in your original is that the couple are clearly people. We don't use "it" to refer to people. We use "his/her/their" to talk about possession.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
As ems noted 'couple' can be regarded as a singular unit. Here are some examples: of 'couple was': http://fraze.it/n_search.jsp?q=%22co...&findid=-1&ff=
It's a seeming logical contradiction, but this sentence sounds perfectly normal to me for AmE. The couple is singular as a subject, but "they" have children.A couple was talking about their children.
More importantly, you yourself instinctively interpreted this situation as plural. Furthermore:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/couple“Are they a couple?” “No, they are just good friends.”
Consider, if you will:
"There are two people left to see, but their needs are simple and shouldn't take long to deal with".
"There is one couple left, but their needs are simple and shouldn't take long to deal with".
"There are a few people left, but their needs...".
There is a large crowd in the park and it looks like it has the whole area blocked off.
The first and third examples, I think we agree on; "people" removes any doubt about plurality.
I put it to you then, that when referring to the crowd, we conceptualize it as a large entity. We know it is made of people (plural), but when acting as a crowd, we perceive it as a single entity. We seem happy to use the singular forms here.
When we say "couple", at least in reference to two humans, we view them conceptual as two people who are connected to at least some extent. As I mentioned above, I think you see it this way too.
Honestly, looking at that 957 examples thing, one after the other I was ticking off, "Nope, plural. Nope, plural again. And again...".
I'm afraid I reject the singular, at least insofar as two people are concerned. I can't really think of an exception even.