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May 10, 2014
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by Warsaw Will"The crowd are on their feet" - Yes, it's the members of the crowd who are their feet - "is on its feet" would sound quite weird to me here. How many feet does a crowd have?
@Warsaw WillIf you are referring to the “members” then say “The members of the crowd are on their feet.”. But if you are referring to the crowd as an entity say “The crowd is on its feet.” A crowd by definition is an indefinite number of people so the number of feet that it has is random. However, all feet belong to the “crowd” and therefore are its feet.
@Warsaw Will“United are playing well” makes no sense to me. If I were implying that the players as separate entities were all playing well, I'd say “The United players are playing well”. When I am referring to the team as an entity, I say “United is playing well”. I can't fathom why one would use a plural verb for a singular subject. It makes no sense at all.
Even though my previous example of “My staff disagree about my next course of action” could be considered correct with the plural verb, it is still more appropriate to say “The members of my staff disagree about my next course of action.”
I just remembered another instance were a plural verb is appropriate with a singular noun. The subjunctive case. e.g. “If I were you, I wouldn't dream of doing that.”
The plural verb with a single group is becoming very prevalent now in the United States as well. Sigh.
As to United States, it is not a plural. The uncapitalized term of “united states” is plural, but the capitalized term of “United States” is singular.
@Warsaw WillIf you wish, you can refer to the vast number of people in the organization rather than the organization. Then a plural verb is appropriate. i.e. “The employers of Ford Motor Company have laid off more employees.” No matter how you argue it, it is not proper to use a plural verb for a singular subject unless the members of that group are not acting with a like purpose. e.g. “My staff disagree about my next course of action.” Here, a plural verb is appropriate because you are referring to the many different opinions of the staff, not the staff as a whole. In the previous example, all pertinent personnel are acting in unison to lay off employees. Therefore, a singular verb is used to refer to the action of the group as a whole.
Well, I find it ludicrous that Europeans tend to use plural verbs with singular nouns. As in, “Ford Motor Company have layed off more employees.” Ford Motor Company is singular as in one company and requires a singular verb. It is properly written “Ford Motor Company HAS layed off more employees.”
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