Collective nouns?

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ESL-lover

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Hi my friends...........

Tell me about collective nouns like family,people etc....
Is it singluar or plural?

Can I say family is or family are?


Thank you very much....................
 

RonBee

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ESL-lover said:
Hi my friends...........

Tell me about collective nouns like family,people etc....
Is it singluar or plural?

Can I say family is or family are?


Thank you very much....................

Nouns like family are, in AE, almost invariable construed as singular. Thus it would be: "The family is...." In BE it's a little more complicated. If the emphasis is on the collective use singular. If the emphasis is on the individuals use plural.

People is not a collective noun. Instead, it is a plural of person.

8)
 

ESL-lover

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RonBee said:
ESL-lover said:
Hi my friends...........

Tell me about collective nouns like family,people etc....
Is it singluar or plural?

Can I say family is or family are?


Thank you very much....................

Nouns like family are, in AE, almost invariable construed as singular. Thus it would be: "The family is...." In BE it's a little more complicated. If the emphasis is on the collective use singular. If the emphasis is on the individuals use plural.

People is not a collective noun. Instead, it is a plural of person.

8)
Used as a plural people is a form with no exactly corresponding singular. (English is not odd in this respect: the equivalent word is anomalous in Spanish, Italian, Russian, and many other languages.) In the past, grammarians have sometimes insisted that people is a collective noun that should not be used as a substitute for persons when referring to a specific number of individuals, as in Six people were arrested. But people has always been used in such contexts, and the distinction is now so widely ignored in general writing that it seems pedantic to insist on it. Persons is still preferred in quasilegal contexts, however, as in Vehicles containing fewer than three persons may not use the left lane during rush hours. Only the singular person is used in compounds involving a specific numeral: a six-person car; a two-person show. But people is used in other compounds: people mover; people power. These examples are exceptions to the general rule that plural nouns cannot be used in such compounds; note that we do not say teethpaste or books-burning.
 

RonBee

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Used as a plural people is a form with no exactly corresponding singular.

I don't know who said that, but I have no trouble figuring it out. IMNSHO, people is the plural of person. One person, two people. Also, people is not a substitute for persons. Instead, persons is used instead of people in quasi-legal situations (as noted in the quotation). It is certainly true that it is an unusual plural, and that upsets some grammarians. Nevertheless, I don't think it is truly a mystery about what people is a plural of. Ask 100 people and they will probably all say the same thing.

8)
 

RonBee

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Thank you. The American Heritage Dictionary is a valuable resource. However, I do not always agree with them.

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ESL-lover

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There is also singular noun people (plural peoples) meaning nation.

Persons is sometimes used as a plural of person in official language.
 

RonBee

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ESL-lover said:
There is also singular noun people (plural peoples) meaning nation.

Yes, more or less. People is used in the singular to refer to an ethnic group, for example: the Jewish people.

ESL-lover said:
Persons is sometimes used as a plural of person in official language.

That is true.

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Lib

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When you say that 'people' is sometimes used as a singular noun, are you implying that it would take a singular verb? I find that hard to accept.
The Jewish people is...... ???
 

Tdol

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It may take a plural verb, but there is a plural form of the collective nouns- 'the peoples of the world'. :D
 

RonBee

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Lib said:
When you say that 'people' is sometimes used as a singular noun, are you implying that it would take a singular verb?

Not exactly. (It's a little complicated, I suppose.) I meant that when used in that sense the noun can be pluralized, for example: the peoples of Europe. We always use are with people. Example: "The Jewish people are...."

I guess you could say it is a plural that can be pluralized.

8)
 
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