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    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #1

    verb subject agreement

    Which is grammatically correct? Staff is... or, staff are....?
    If it is the former then staff is a singular word so all verb- subject agreements thereafter in the sentence are written in the singular, I presume?

  1. RedMtl's Avatar
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    #2

    Smile Re: verb subject agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Haywood View Post
    Which is grammatically correct? Staff is... or, staff are....?
    If it is the former then staff is a singular word so all verb- subject agreements thereafter in the sentence are written in the singular, I presume?
    You will get both answers to this, almost certainly, but you are correct in your assumption above.

    Staff is singular, but it gets used all to frequently in the plural -- especially in North America. When intended in the plural, what is really needed is a more full phrase, such as: "The members of the staff have been told . . .." "Members of the staff" being plural.

    Without that part, it should be: "The staff has been told . . .."


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    #3

    Re: verb subject agreement

    I'm afraid your example is somewhat misguiding.
    'The members of the staff have ...'
    Here you have agreement between 'members' and 'have', not between 'staff' and 'have'.
    Here is an example to illustrate how 'staff' can be used in the plural:
    All the staff are discussing the latest news.

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    #4

    Re: verb subject agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    I'm afraid your example is somewhat misguiding.
    'The members of the staff have ...'
    Here you have agreement between 'members' and 'have', not between 'staff' and 'have'.
    Here is an example to illustrate how 'staff' can be used in the plural:
    All the staff are discussing the latest news.
    Additionally, the staff are sitting at their desks and talking about the latest news.

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    #5

    Re: verb subject agreement

    Staff is a plural noun that doesn't have as s at the end.

    Like children. (Or fish )

    The staff are teaching. The children are playing. The fish are swimming.

    Dave

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    #6

    Re: verb subject agreement

    Claire,
    here is another explanation on the noun staff:

    Explanation:
    'Staff' is a description of a group of people. It is similar to 'team'. Sometimes a staff and a team are thought of as a single group of people, and sometimes as a collection of individual people (Most of the staff were from Hong Kong).
    A single member of a team is 'a member of the team'. In the same way, a single member of the staff is called 'a member of staff '.
    - A number of staff have asked for leave.
    -Three-quarters of our staff are graduates.
    - None of the staff have volunteered.
    - The staff were very good.

    a member of staff noun phrase (one worker) - She has been a member of staff for 20 years.

    - Seven members of staff are on sick-leave today.
    - Some members of staff are late.

    More information:

    Staff

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    #7

    Smile Re: verb subject agreement

    staff is singular. So the verb should be in agreement with singular subject.

    Ex : The staff is working on a project.

    In some cases such as teachers in a school, teachers are referred as staff. Here 'staff' takes plural verb.

    Ex: The staff are attending the meeting. (But not Faculty. Faculty doesn't mean staff)
    Last edited by venkatasu; 03-May-2008 at 06:34.


    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #8

    Re: verb subject agreement

    1. 'Staff' is not like 'children'. 'Children' is the plural form for 'child'. It doesn't have to take -s for the plural. It's plural itself.

    2. 'Staff' is not like 'fish'. 'Fish' is a countable noun: one fish - five fish. 'Staff' is uncountable: ?? one staff - ??five staff. Ridiculous, isn't it?
    3. I agree with Teia who writes that staff belongs to the class of collective nouns that are understood as either a unified body or a collection of individuals. That accounts for verb fluctuations in number: staff is... / staff ... are .

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    #9

    Re: verb subject agreement

    Nice explanation Clark.

    From what I understand, in the US, we are more likely to use words like staff, company, team in the singular than our British counterparts.

    It's only when you want to refer to the members of the group individually that you use the plural, and that's pretty uncommon (but not wrong).

    [not a teacher]


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    #10

    Re: verb subject agreement

    Thank you, Barb_D.

    Grammars do mention this difference between AmE and BrE. That's why I recommend my students to use a singular verb if they are not sure about the form, to be on the safe side. They can always refer to American usage.

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