A and The noun and verb agreement

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FloMar

Senior Member
English - England
Is it correct to use a+noun+ plural verb e.g. a group of men are here and the + noun + singular verb e.g. the group of men is here? I don't hear the BBC making this distinction
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is it correct to use a+noun+ plural verb e.g. a group of men are here and the + noun + singular verb e.g. the group of men is here?
    No, it is not true.
    AE has a tendency to threat collective nouns as singular: "The staff is unhelpful."
    BE has a tendency to threat collective nouns as plural: "The staff are unhelpful."

    It is a question of whether you see, e.g. "group" as one unit (singular verb) or as individual units acting together (plural verb).

    However, in both languages, there are exceptions.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Just running some examples through in my head, I might possibly change a collective noun I usually use in the singular to the plural with 'a', but not the other way round. For me, 'group' is usually plural while 'team' is usually singular, and I might say any of the following:
    The team of horses is pulling the carriage
    A team of horses is pulling the carriage
    A team of horses are pulling the carriage
    A group of horses are standing in the field
    The group of horses are standing in the field​

    I cannot imagine myself saying 'The team of horses are pulling the carriage' in any circumstances, but I might use a singular 'group of horses is standing in the field' with either 'a' or 'the', should the situation seem to warrant it.

    Make of that what you will.
     
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