Oros said:1. The family has an Internet connection at home.
2.The family have an Internet connection at home.
Which is the correct one? You would vote for the both sentence, wouldn't you?
Completely agree. These always take a singular verb.foxfirebrand said:In AE we use singular verb forms for countable collective nouns.
"The enemy is at the gates."
It's not just a preference-- at least to my ear, Americans wouldn't use are in this sentence, not at all.
I'm quite certain I've heard news presenters on the BBC news using collective nouns in a singular form eg. the government is adamant about its policy, rather than the govt. are adamant about their policy.
I'm glad I find this post, and this thread. We learn British English at school. So if it's really a British/American thing, I should go for British. Here are two problems from my English test.... If you have to choose for a language test, singular 'the family has', 'the government is' should be a safe choice.
The answer shown on the book is "have", but how about "has"? Is it acceptable?
In the AmE usage, it is only the verb that immediately follows the "collective" that gets the singular form. Thereafter, US speakers use "they" in those situations where BrE uses plural immediately after the "singular" collective. AmE uses the grammatical "singular" even though the sense is plural, and then continues with plural.We got into a similar discussion on a language forum here, and I'm connecting to this thread, as I think it's more a question of grammar and usage (than of translation). "Collective nouns" are often treated as plural in BrE (British English) but as singular in AmE (American English). I wish to stress that the plural form (connected to a singular noun (collective or not) sounds totally wrong, to American ears. In fact I asked my brother, a university professor (PhD in English) what he thought about it, and he gave this explanation which I found helpful:
"It sounds incorrect to your ears (and mine) because they grew up in the US of A.
I understand the British usage, but I think that grammatical logic (oddly, perhaps) supports the 'Murican usage. "Class" and "government" and "team" and so on are singular nouns; each has a plural form as well. Nouns and verbs are supposed to agree in number (as in other respects). I rest my case."
I understand that Brits use both singular and plural verbs with collective nouns. So (as a teacher of English as a foreign language), my suggestion to Tomo01 would probably be to avoid using the plural verb form entirely (with "collective nouns" in the singular), as the singular verb form seems to be acceptable on both sides of the pond, and the plural verb is considered incorrect in AmE, BUT it's good to be aware that the plural form is sometimes/often used in BrE, and is considered correct (in BrE).
In the AmE usage, it is only the verb that immediately follows the "collective" that gets the singular form. Thereafter, US speakers use "they" in those situations where BrE uses plural immediately after the "singular" collective. AmE uses the grammatical "singular" even though the sense is plural, and then continues with plural.
I described the difference in usage. I specifically avoided making a judgement on correctness The link I gave provided an example or two. Here's an illustration of the "singular, then plural" concept. Below is a quote from a post I made on the issue as a side comment in a separate, but related, threadSo are you implying that the plural verb is "more correct?" I disagree. I think a distinction can/must be made between British and American English, here. Brits don't seem to apply this plural form to ALL collective nouns - which makes it difficult to provide a specific "rule".
Personally I think the first rule in English is that there are exceptions to all rules (or, as in this case, different interpretations). However I also think it would be useful to provide some examples of both BrE and AmE usage (since you seem familiar with both), for the benefit of non-native speakers wishing to improve their English.
It looks like a similar situation to the team/police/government is/are discussions. In many cases, the speaker or writer uses the word "team" to refer to the members (not the singular unit) but feels obliged, simply from a grammar viewpoint, to use a singular verb. "Grammatically correct" is therefore only one way out while a "common sense" way that is clear and sounds right may be grammatically incorrect.
This dichotomy will always polarize these kinds of threads
I wrote that a while ago and had in mind the usage of plural verbs as being "common to both forms" after the first instance of the verb following the collective in which the sense relates to the members rather than the unit. That's why I was glad to find some examples of AE using singular then plural, to illustrate that point.Far be it from me, to suggest one way is more correct than another . However it seems to me that the key problem here is that what "sounds right" to British ears simply does not sound right to an American speaker. So how can we then define "common sense"?
You could use either, depending on whether you're stressing the unity of the family ("it is") or the plurality of those who make it up ("we are").Hi guys! How you can answer the question “ Is your family from the U.S.A?” We can use “ Yes, we are” or “ Yes, it is” for this question. I hope someone can reply me soon . thanks so much ^^ Love you all
Such differences are undoubtedly diminishing, but they still exist. To my Canadian-English ears, "the government are..." or "the team are..." sound strange, but are common in the British English textbooks I use with my ESL students.I suppose we could (and have, and will) discuss this until the cows come home.
As far as differences are concerned, I have compared notes with British language teachers, and our consensus has been that, thanks to modern communications (and television, cinema, etc), many words put on lists of specifically "BrE" or "AmE" terms are now used on both sides of the pond. Which I suppose shouldn't be surprising, as distance and separation are how the differences were originally created.
Such differences are undoubtedly diminishing, but they still exist. To my Canadian-English ears, "the government are..." or "the team are..." sound strange, but are common in the British English textbooks I use with my ESL students.