Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Group - singular or plural?

Since it's been brought to my attention, I'll mention here that a group or a team can be singular or plural.

"Led Zeppelin is headlining tonight."
"Led Zeppelin were these four young guys..."

Ref: Dictionary.com Should I use a singular or a plural verb with a collective noun?

Brits are far more likely than Americans to choose the plural over the singular when the individuality of the group members is not addressed.

It's just one of those crazy things about English.

Update: caught this lovely phrase today 11/08/09

"Yet for all his commercial success, Bon Jovi have to date had little critical credibility with anyone other than their accountant. "

It's from an English newspaper here, and I suspect the subeditor saw "Bon Jovi has" ("the group has") and wrenched it into the plural ("Bon Jovi have") to align with British orthography ("the group have") and missed the "his" preceding it that meant it referred to the man, not his group.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This kind of drives me crazy, as in the US it seems to be used rather inconsistently. I moved to a new city recently and started listening to local radio. That's where I noticed this 'newer' use of plurals referring to bands/ musical groups.

I think it sounds odd to use when referring to bands in casual conversation, almost a bit pretentious. It seems to be a growing trend. I just find it annoying in that context. Maybe I'm the only one. :)

Peromyscus said...

I moved to the US 20 years ago, which means I now have no idea whether a word is singular or plural and I tend to just alternate. I do that along with guessing at whether punctuation belongs inside or outside of quotation marks and coasting on a number of other trans-Atlantic differences. However, my spelling is pretty determinedly American. For some reason that bit was easy.

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