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    #1

    There is/are a colony of ants

    There is/are a colony of ants in the box.

    Should it be 'is' or 'are'?

    Thanks.

  1. #2

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    It should be "is" because you are speaking of the colony which is singular.


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    #3

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Hello Tan,

    This is not your first question on number concord with collective nouns. Almost identical questions have been answered not so long ago.
    NEver mind, I was just thinking aloud.

    In BrE, either the notional or the grammatical concord is used.
    Notional concord means the verb agrees with the meaning of the subject. In our case, the true subject of the sentence is 'a colony of ants', which has a strong pull for a plural verb (are) because it refers to several ants.
    The grammatical concord means the head of the NP realizing the subject is singular (colony), and so has to be the verb (is).

    Americans tend to treat collective nouns as single units, so it’s more common to use the singular verb unless you’re definitely talking about individuals.

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    #4

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    Hello Tan,

    This is not your first question on number concord with collective nouns. Almost identical questions have been answered not so long ago.
    NEver mind, I was just thinking aloud.
    There is/are a colony of ants in the box.

    All along I am aware that it should be 'There is a colony of ants.' However, recently, I read 'There are a colony of ants.' That's why I wanted to confirm that 'are' is incorrect.


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    #5

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Both are correct. You just have to use your best judgment, and even though this seems tricky, the good news is that you can never really get it wrong because there is no real rule, and you can always just assert that you were thinking of the 'colony' as individuals (or a unit) if someone questions your verb choice.
    Last edited by svartnik; 22-Jun-2009 at 19:19. Reason: spelling

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    Hello Tan,

    This is not your first question on number concord with collective nouns. Almost identical questions have been answered not so long ago.
    NEver mind, I was just thinking aloud.

    In BrE, either the notional or the grammatical concord is used.
    Notional concord means the verb agrees with the meaning of the subject. In our case, the true subject of the sentence is 'a colony of ants', which has a strong pull for a plural verb (are) because it refers to several ants.
    The grammatical concord means the head of the NP realizing the subject is singular (colony), and so has to be the verb (is).

    Americans tend to treat collective nouns as single units, so itís more common to use the singular verb unless youíre definitely talking about individuals.
    I have never met 'are' in this context in BrE. "There is a colony of ants".


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    #7

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I have never met 'are' in this context in BrE. "There is a colony of ants".
    The good news is that you can never really get it wrong because there is no real rule, and you can always just assert that you were thinking of the 'colony' as individuals (or a unit) if someone questions your verb choice.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    The good news is that you can never really get it wrong because there is no real rule, and you can always just assert that you were thinking of the 'colony' as individuals (or a unit) if someone questions your verb choice.
    Yes I know that, but you intimated that there would be a preference for 'are' in BrE.


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    #9

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    There is/are a colony of ants in the box.

    All along I am aware that it should be 'There is a colony of ants.' However, recently, I read 'There are a colony of ants.' That's why I wanted to confirm that 'are' is incorrect.
    Seeing the replies to your query, in future it will help if you tell us what periodical/newspaper contained the problematical sentence.

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    #10

    Re: There is/are a colony of ants

    Thanks, Anglika.

    My daughter's teacher wrote that it can be There is a colony of ants OR There are a colony of ants. It is not from any newspaper or periodical. That's why I thought it was not necessary to mention the source.
    Last edited by Tan Elaine; 23-Jun-2009 at 00:38.

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