You made me pull out some grammar books which have been collecting dust, but it's OK
I don't mind one bit. I don't want to confuse anyone, so thanks for bringing this up.
"Singular words which refer to groups of people (like family, team, goverment
) can often be used as if they were plural, especially in British English.
My family have decided to move to Nottingham
This generally happens when we think of the group as people, doing the sort of things that people do (for instance, making plans, wanting things, being disappointed, amusing themselves). In these cases, a plural verb is used, and the group is referred to by the pronouns they
My family are wonderful
. They do all they can for me. I don't know any other family who would do so much
"How are the team
?" - "Oh, they're very optimistic
The goverment are hoping to ease import restrictions soon
Examples of words and expressions which can be used in this way:
family, team, goverment, committee, club, class, school, union, choir, orchestra, staff, jury, firm, The B.B.C., The Bank of England, The Ministry of Defence, The Labour Party, The British Public, England (the football team), Liverpool (the football team)
Note that these words are not so often used with plural verbs when they have a(n), each, every, this
before them. Compare:
The team are full of enthusiasm.
A team which is full enthusiasm is more likely to win
. (Not: A team who are full
Quoted from "Practical English Usage" by Michael Swan, Oxford University Press
You are right, mimitabby. These are singular nouns. They are singular nouns which can be used AS IF they were plural.