England begin their campaign against United States

  • Eigenfunction

    Senior Member
    England - English
    England refers to the England football team, which can be regarded as either singular or plural depending on whether you are referring to the team as a single object or a group of people. (EDIT: To see more examples and explanations of how this works, search the forums for threads about singular/plural collective nouns and common examples:the team, the government, the family, the company…)

    United States is a proper noun, the name of the United States football team. As such it doesn't need an article (the).
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This is taken from a BBC website. In England, it is normal to refer to a football team or a football club with the verb in the plural. In today's "Guardian" newspaper, I read "Hull City [a football club] face a battle to avoid going into administration" and "Liverpool have been here before, of course."

    .... So "begin" is correct .... over here.
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Begin is correct. United States is definitely incorrect though (regardless of whether it refers to their soccer team or not), it should be the United States. If taken from a headline however, shortage of space often takes precedence over strict grammar rules.


    Senior Member
    But United States, like United Kingdom, often appears without the in sporting contexts: see for example this list.

    If the list of participating countries includes United Kingdom and United States, then surely United Kingdom can compete against United States?
    I don't think that the list proves much, because a leading "the" is often omitted from an alphabetically ordered list. Even "The Philippines" appears there without "the". I would prefer the United Kingdom competing against the United States.
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