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Hi everyone,
Could you help me with this sentence? Is it correct?

"What is the police doing? Can't they enforce the traffic rules?"

Thank you
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Thank you all for your answers. I asked this queston because I read somewhere a sentence: "What is the government doing? Can't they ...." so I thaught that with police it would be the same story.

Best regards
Police, Cattle, Vermin and Clergy are always plural.
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MagdaThank you all for your answers. I asked this queston because I read somewhere a sentence: "What is the government doing? Can't they ...." so I thaught that with police it would be the same story.

Best regards
A collective noun can be used with either a singular or plural noun. However, 'police' is the exception; it requires a plural verb, not a singular verb.
Magda quotes:
"What is the government doing? Can't they ...."
This is a perfect example of inconsistency. We can say either "What are the government doing? Can't they ...." or "What is the government doing? Can't it....". Unfortunately this kind of inconsistency abounds in journalistic English, at least in BrE.

Yoong Liat, I agree that "police" is generally plural. However, I would feel uncomfortable saying "The police are an important institution". Dictionaries and text-books express respected opinions that are worth taking into consideration, but you should not think that, once quoted, they close all discussion. Otherwise it would be sufficient in this forum to answer every question by saying: "Consult a text-book".
AnonymousPolice, Cattle, Vermin and Clergy are always plural.
Yes, I agree with you.
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Hi Lewis

You say "I agree that 'police' is generally plural." No, 'police' is always plural in sense and always needs a plural verb. You also say "However, I would feel uncomfortable saying 'The police are an important institution'. You cannot come out with a sentence and say that this sentence doesn't sound right and therefore 'police' can be used with a singular verb. If you want to be certain, refer to dictionaries and if you can find a dictionary that tells you that 'police' can be used with a singular verb, then I'll accept that a singular verb can be used with 'police'.
Jonathan,
J LewisMagda quotes:
"What is the government doing? Can't they ...."
This is a perfect example of inconsistency. We can say either "What are the government doing? Can't they ...." or "What is the government doing? Can't it....". Unfortunately this kind of inconsistency abounds in journalistic English, at least in BrE.
It's a funny thing, but I can imagine someone say 'What is the government doing? Can't they ....' in the street. Of course, it's quite a jump from viewing the government as an entity, to addressing them 'in person', but... when a friend of yours asks you 'Feel like going out?' you don't usually answer 'Feel like going out', do you? I bet you'd choose something less consistent.

Emotion: smile

Slava
Hi Slava, perhaps in this particular example the inconsistency doesn't sound so bad, but in any case conversation is full of inconsistencies simply because we think as we speak and change along the way; we clarify a lot with the tone of voice and gestures. It's different when it comes to writing. For example, I might well say "I've been to Rome last week", even though time expressions go with the simple past, because I decide to say when after beginning the sentence. But I wouldn't write like this!

To Yoong Liat: I only want to say that in particular, unusual circumstances "Police" in the singular is conceivable. I would not teach this to a class.

Cheers,
Lewis
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Hello Lewis

To Yoong Liat: I only want to say that in particular, unusual circumstances "Police" in the singular is conceivable. I would not teach this to a class.

Do you mean that it is possible to use a singular verb with 'police'? I've gone through all my dictionaries and all of them say that 'police' is a plural noun. They do not state that it can be used with a singular verb.

If you can find a dictionary which says that a singular verb can be used with 'police', I will agree with you. You can also quote from an authorative source.
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