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I work for an international company in the music industry and our main language is English.
However, that's where the problems begin...

There seem to be some UK/European-influenced people who insist on writing awkward things for my american ears like:

"The group are..."

-OR-

"The band are looking..."

-OR-

"Interscope Records hunt..."

Do you understand what I'm getting at here? My ears bleed when I hear this. Nobody speaks like this in the US, but this kind of grammar gets thrown around at liberty in my company. I'd like to end this for once and for all, but I need to be 100% sure that I'm right. What is the rule here?

Thanks for your answers.
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We take a more flexible approach in British English and both ways (plural and singular) are seen as acceptable. It depends on how we are thinking of the 'group'.

We say 'the group is' when we are thinking of it as one collective thing but 'the group are' when we are thinking the members of the group are....

'the band is' when we are thinking of the band as a whole or 'the band are' when we are thinking about the members of the band.

It can be very useful to be able to make this distinction between the group as an entity and the members of the group. We can say 'the band are considering whether to split up' and that makes much more sense to me than 'the band is considering whether to split up' as it is the people in the band, not the band as an 'organisation', that are thinking about this.

This has been discussed widely here before - When to use 'is' and 'are' has caused an argument in the office is a very long thread exploring the differences between American and other versions of English on their approach to this (initially started by someone driven mad by their boss's use of 'British Gas are ...', so a very similar situation).

Mr P (English) made a useful contribution to this -

I would agree that the same noun can be both a collective noun and a noun of multitude, depending on context.

To quote a Victorian grammar, 'a noun of multitude denotes the individuals of a group, and hence the verb is plural, although the noun is singular':

1. The jury consists of twelve persons (collective noun - singular).
2. The jury were divided in their opinions (noun of multitude - plural).

Perhaps the 'personal pronoun test' can help to resolve disputed cases:

3. When was Manchester Utd founded? It was founded in 1878.
4. Where do Manchester Utd play? They play at Old Trafford.

So, you see, it is perfectly acceptable and correct in some versions of English, so I doubt you will have much success in enforcing the American English view throughout an international company. You''ll just have to grit your teeth and bear it. Emotion: smile. There are some aspects of American English that can grate on us, too.
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AnonymousIt's odd that you, as an American, ...
FYI. You are adding to a thread that has been inactive for more than seven years.

CJ
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Comments  
Thanks for your great reply. I do have one follow-up question though.

Is this use of plural and singular convention or is there an actual rule for this?
In my eyes a unit is a unit. And any group in that case becomes singular.
I am sure that there are many aspects of AE that grate on BE speakers! ;-)

"We take a more flexible approach in British English and both ways (plural and singular) are seen as acceptable. It depends on how we are thinking of the 'group'.

We say 'the group is' when we are thinking of it as one collective thing but 'the group are' when we are thinking the members of the group are....

'the band is' when we are thinking of the band as a whole or 'the band are' when we are thinking about the members of the band."
It's odd that you, as an American, should question a possible plurality of nouns such as 'group', since even a quote from the American Heritage Book of English Usage corroborates Nona the Brit's (and my own) views on the matter. Here's the quote for you: "Group as a collective noun can be followed by a singular or plural verb. It takes a singular verb when the persons or things that make up the group are considered collectively: The dance group is ready for rehearsal. Group takes a plural verb when the persons or things that constitute it are considered individually: The group were divided in their sympathies." Have a good day:)
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

“The jury were divided in their opinions”. That this is inherently wrong can be demosftrated by changing the to this. If a jury is considered plural one wolud have to say “these jury”.

So in the above example :” This jury were divided”. Sounds very wrong

Jury (or band) remains a singular form even if it is considered to represent many individuals. That’s why you can’t say “these band are considering splitting up.

class train“The jury were divided in their opinions”. ... this is inherently wrong ...

Only if you are an American chauvinist.

CJ

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