Collective noun -- FAMILY: "is" or "are"?

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Anonymous:
My Study Guide says that a collective noun is considered singular when it refers to a group as a whole: "His family was invited."

Then in the Self-Check Test following that discussion had this sentence: "Her family (is, are) well."
I believed that this "family" was referring to the group as a whole, so I chose "is."
But the answer is actually "are."

Now I'm working on the Exam (that I will send to American School to have it graded) and the exact sentence is in the exam. "Her family ( is , are ) well."

I would like to know if the answer really is "are."
Isn't the sentence basically the same as the given example: "His family was invited"?

THANKS!!! =)
Approved answer (verified by )
Anonymous:
Too late for the student concerned, but here's some advice from Advanced Grammar In Use, Cambridge University Press, 2005:

You can use both the singular and plural forms of verbs with singular nouns that refer to a group of some kind.
You use the singular when referring to the group as a whole unit and the plural form when the focus is on the group as a collection of individuals.
Generally it makes little difference which is used and the singular form is more common.
However, there are particular circumstances where either the singular or the plural form should be used. I suggest reading p80 of the text for more details.
ALL REPLIES
Hi,

As you note, it depends on whether you are thinking of the family as a whole or as several members. But I would definitely say 'is' for your answer.

Best wishes, Clive
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Anonymous:
So the Self-Check Test is probably wrong?

Thank you!
Anonymous:
1- Her family are well, because each one of them is fine (it is not seen as a group or a collective noun as some of them may not be well. So all the members are well. ( All the members of the family are well.)

2- When you send an invitation to a family, you don't send it to each member of the family or when you send an invitation to a family you don't mean that you are sending it to some members of the family but not to some others. You are sending it to the whole group. Here we have a collective noun as a whole. So we use singular verb.Emotion: wink
Anonymous:
family - singular

families - plural

My family is well.

Those families who attend the semimar are courteous
Anonymous:
It can be both unless you have only one family member!
the Brittish say more often "my family are" because they consider "family" as being a group of people and not a sigular noun
Anonymous:
I had the same question, thank you.
But how about making questions with the;
If some one asks:"Is your family invited?" , How shall one answer?
I myself think saying "yes, It is." is not correct. what do you suggest?
Thank you
The question is more likely to be phrased as 'Has/Have your family been invited?' One possible response is, 'Yes, we have'.
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