France have just scored (football )

sdon

Senior Member
Italian
Hi, I would like to know why you use "have just scored" and not "have just scored" if France is a singular name.

Many thanks
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Team" is a collective noun. If you enter the word "collective" (with the inverted commas) in Dictionary Look-up at the top of the page, you will come to a lot of threads on this subject.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Because AmE treats collective nouns differently than BrE, you would indeed say "France has just scored" in AmE.
    And then it gets confusing, because after that first singular, the commentator would say something like " .. and they need two more goals to equalize the score, if they want to stay in the competition." The commentators don't say " .. and it needs two more goals etc..." It is only the first sentence , where the name (of the country or city where the team comes from) is used where singular is used. After that it's all "they" and plural. As you say, in BrE, the name is also treated as a plural so all is consistent. I've lived in the US for over 30 years and it still sounds "funny" to hear it sound like a large piece of land (where the French live) has scored a goal, but that's language :)
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    And then it gets confusing, because after that first singular, the commentator would say something like " .. and they need two more goals to equalize the score, if they want to stay in the competition." The commentators don't say " .. and it needs two more goals etc..." It is only the first sentence , where the name (of the country or city where the team comes from) is used where singular is used. After that it's all "they" and plural. As you say, in BrE, the name is also treated as a plural so all is consistent. I've lived in the US for over 30 years and it still sounds "funny" to hear it sound like a large piece of land (where the French live) has scored a goal, but that's language :)
    I agree entirely, the piece of land where the French live cannot score goals. However, that other piece of land floating about next to France can, apparently, do some things as a singular entity:

    'England expects every man will do his duty'

    I don't know whether this is a one-off, whether the usage was different in Lord Nelson's days or what singular entity he had in mind, if not the physical land mass...? :)

    /Wilma
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Isn't English fun ? :)
    I think the usage in the collective form goes like this "(The players representing ) England have scored". In that context I think of the members of the team and subconsciously allow that to drive my grammar. Conversely, as a singular political or geographical entity, "England is one part of the United Kingdom" the use of singular follows naturally.

    I think your example is an interesting cultural one and is noteworthy because of the attitude it reflects : his view, and associated linguistic implication, was that the country of individuals was united into a single entity (collective cultural conscience, the one with the "stiff upper lip" and all that?) that singlemindedly would "win the war". Furthermore, it was intended to be motivational so that anyone who didn't "do their duty" should not feel part of the "oneness" and therefore wasn't English and should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Churchill also used this device, I think. Added : Perhaps a simpler explanation would be "(Everyone in ) England expects ... "

    In any case, the previous threads on collectives should probably suffice for the rest of the discussion.

    JS
     
    Last edited:

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are two distinct points in this example.
    First, that it is entirely normal to refer to a national team by the name of the country. For example, France plays England at some sport or other.

    Second that it is entirely normal in BE to consider a team to be either or plural, depending on the context. Both "France has scored ..." and "France have scored ..." sound unexceptional to me.
     

    amgfnyc

    Member
    English-American
    I actually think that it should be "France has just scored." Yes, team is a collective noun, but "France have just scored" is simply awkward. We wouldn't say, "Germany have a gold medal," for example, even though we mean the German team. We would say, "Germany has a gold medal."
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I actually think that it should be "France has just scored." Yes, team is a collective noun, but "France have just scored" is simply awkward. We wouldn't say, "Germany have a gold medal," for example, even though we mean the German team. We would say, "Germany has a gold medal."
    This is a very well-known difference between American English and British English. There are lots of previous threads on the general topic (you can find them listed at collective nouns).
    Specifically:
    Collective nouns - Italy <wins, win> the Worldcup?
    Collective nouns - a group of people + singular or plural verb
     
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