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Re: Collective nouns

Posted by ESC on October 11, 2000

In Reply to: Re: CHECK PLEASE posted by Bob on October 11, 2000

:
: : WHICH IS CORRECT PLEASE?

:
: : THE FAMILY HAVE DEVOTIONS

:
: : THE FAMILY HAS DEVOTIONS

: It depends on where you are. No, really.
: In the U.S., we treat collective nouns (nouns that represent a bunch of people) as a singular. In the U. K., collectives are plural. Words like "the government" are treated very differently, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on.

I agree -- in the U.S. collective nouns, like family, are treated as singular. The family has devotions. However, there are some exceptions based on whether the collective noun is acting as a unit.

The team is on the field.
The team ate their lunches. (Since the team isn't eating a single collective lunch.)

Usually I just skirt the whole issue by changing the noun. For example, changing "team" to "team members." The team members ate their lunches.