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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 3) 
Hi Yoong Liat, I think we're back to our old debate about "authority". I don't know whether I can find an example of "the police is" and I'm not going to look for one. As a native speaker and teacher I am not an absolute authority but put forward my opinions for consideration by others. I repeat that I fully respect all the text-books and dictionaries, which try to reflect the language as their authors see it, but we all have our particular ways of speaking. If nobody else agrees with me, no problem; it means that on this point my English is not standard. But please stop waving books and saying "This or that is right/wrong because the book says so".

best wishes
Lewis
Hello Lewis

If I want to find the correct spelling of a word, I refer to a dictionary. For example, I cannot say '40' is spelt 'fourty' and insist you cannot refer to a dictionary to prove me wrong. Some members use websites to prove their point. I cannot tell them to stop doing so. In fact, I respect their effort in extracting such information from the websites.

Since you say '... it means that on this point my English is not standard', I'll treat the matter as closed.
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Hi J Lewis,

I found some examples of "the police is" on, I believe, reputable sites - here and here.

Cheers,
Magda
Thanks, Magda, you've done a job that I should have done.
Yoong Liat, I hope you're satisfied now. On the question of spelling 40 as fourty, this is an improbable analogy as we are talking about a word used regularly. I can't remember ever myself using a sentence containing "the police is", because it's not a circumstance under daily discussion.
As for spelling, there is much less certainty about how to spell "benefiting"; many people are led to use a double "t" because they are thinking of "fitting", but in fact we double the final consonant only if the last syllable is stressed. The same problem arises with "focusing", but here it's a much more open question because there are very few verbs ending in a single "s". I once tried to correct Clive on this and he replied that in his dictionary both spellings were allowed. In mine only "focusing" was considered. The fact is that dictionary compilers include an item when they feel that it's common enough to be considered an example of modern usage. I just want to get you away from the idea that dictionaries are the be-all and end-all in discussions on this forum. Authoritative, yes, and that's why we quote them; absolute authority no.
Anyway, as you say, let's consider the discussion closed.
Lewis, as I've said, if you can provide me from an authoritive source that 'police' can be used with a singular verb, then I've have to agree that a singular verb can be used with 'police'. I'm not saying that only dictionaries and books on English should be used to prove our point. I told you any authoritative source will do and Magda has done that. I've also told you that some members make use of authoritive websites to back up what they believe in and I cannot tell them not to do so.

It's not a question of being satisfied now. It's a question of getting to the bottom of the issue. And Magda has done the correct thing by looking for an authoritative source, which you didn't even try to. You just insisted 'police' can be regarded as a singular noun.
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While police is generally used in plural, singular uses are allowed, especially when seen as a group/body, as seen in this dictionary quotation:
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police

5 a : POLICE FORCE<the metropolitan police> <the police was there in force -- Arthur Morrison><the police and other local law enforcement bodies -- Jack Lait & Lee Mortimer> b : a member of a police force or constabulary : POLICEMAN -- usually used in plural <ask these two police all the questions -- Thomas Sterling> <detectives, plainclothesmen and uniformed police -- New York Herald Tribune>


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While police is generally used in plural, singular uses are allowed, especially when seen as a group/body, as seen in this dictionary quotation:
---------
police

5 a : POLICE FORCE<the metropolitan police> <the police was there in force -- Arthur Morrison><the police and other local law enforcement bodies -- Jack Lait & Lee Mortimer> b : a member of a police force or constabulary : POLICEMAN -- usually used in plural <ask these two police all the questions -- Thomas Sterling> <detectives, plainclothesmen and uniformed police -- New York Herald Tribune>


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Marius

I like your approach. You've used a dictionary website to prove that 'police' can be used with a singular verb. I appreciate your effort very much.

I believe participants in this forum should not just bulldoze their way through without proof from dictionaries, books on English and authoritative websites.
I really don't want to wade my way into a quarrel, especially on THIS topic, where my feeling was that it takes a plural. (Even though Marius (the king of searches) found a singular use from an impeccable source, if I heard it the way it's listed there, it would sound marked and unnatural.)

The thing I want to emphasize with my post here is that you can almost always find an example of a less-common use. If you can find something used 60% one way and 40% the other, then there is obviously quite a bit of room for interpretation, and we should discuss how and when to use it each way. But when you find a usage that sounds odd 99% of the time, we do a disservice to those who are learning English to provide the 1% as a viable alternative in common use. For example, "affect" does have a meaning as a noun within the specific field of psychology. But to an English learner, we should just say "Think of affect as a verb in virtually every context you'll need," and not confuse the issue.

I would urge people to not spend time finding those 1% examples to prove a point, because people who do that might gain a moral victory, but they confuse learners in the process. This is not aimed at anyone in particular, and is not a hidden message to people who have posted here already, but just to those who think it's better to be right than it is to be helpful.
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Hi Barbara
I think there's no real dispute between us. I am one of the first to say that our answers should be based primarily on what is normal and don't like the "anything goes" approach based on rare exceptions. However, at the same time our questioners are not all beginners and I see no harm in mentioning exceptions, however rare, for further information, on condition that we specify that they are, precisely, rare exceptions. I believe that's what I have done all along in this thread and in my orignal comment I said, 'It's rare to see "police" in the singular unless we are saying something like "the police was founded in 1850", but even there we are more likely to say "police force"'. In defending the exceptional use of "police" in the singular I don't think I have been doing any worse than the participants in some very long, hair-splittng threads in this forum.
Even native speakers have doubts about some things but not about everything. I am sure that certain things are true and don't like being told they are wrong just because somebody's dictionary doesn't include them (and maybe someone else's does). This applies to some things and not others; I recently learnt that the past participle of "sew" can be "sewed", not "sewn", also in British English. I was happy to add this to my store of knowledge.

Best wishes
Lewis
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