crowd <have or has> been fighting


The crowd... been fighting among themselves since morning.


I would choose b , but "the crowd" refers to many people.
  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I would choose a) because when the plurality of a collective noun is stressed, we usually use a plural verb. A singular doesn't take "among themselves".

    But, "There was a huge crowd at the station."


    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    It's an awkward sentence. "Among themselves" makes more sense with a plural verb, but "The crowd have been fighting" sounds odd in AE, no matter what follows. Most AE writers would probably phrase the whole thing differently.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Yes, ideally I'd phrase it differently, but given the choices here, I'd use "have". I'd find "has" with "themselves" really jarring.

    Christian, what was the source? A teacher? Or a textbook? Like many exam questions we've seen here, it's poorly written.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Does the textbook teach British English?

    There hasn't been any BE input in this thread so far, so I think it should be said that in BE there's nothing wrong with:
    "The crowd have been fighting amongst themselves since morning."
    Perhaps another speaker of BE could confirm that I'm not out on a limb here.:)

    To me it sounds very strange with a singular verb. I read it as "The people in the crowd have been fighting..."
    But "The crowd has been fighting against some other force, outside itself".
    The British are quite liberal using 'have' in these cases. I hear it on the telly.
    They even say plurals where none are logically needed as "The team have won."

    The American do not use the plural as much, though logically it seems to fit the OP example.
    Yet nonetheless "The crowd have been fighting among themselves" sound odd to my AE ear.
    I'd say, "Members of the crowd have been fighting amongst themselves." or "There has been
    in-fighting among the crowd" "There have been in-fights within the crowd."


    Senior Member
    English UK
    We've seen this issue so many times....

    In BrE, people say: Team X have won. They have scored more goals than the other team.
    In AmE, people say: Team X has won. They have [not: It has ...] scored more goals than the other team.

    We just place our plurals/collectives differently.
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    Senior Member
    I do not know if this is a BE/AE thing, but for me a crowd of people can fight among themselves, in which case the crowd is a collective of many individuals and the verb is plural (are).
    In fact, I completely agree with Velisarius, post 11, now that I have read it carefully. It is like I wrote it, really :)
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    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think I must have been channeling you then boozer.:p

    I'm glad that it's not just me standing up for the writer and publishers of that textbook, though I was aware of this BE/AE difference and Florentia also hinted at it.
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