Friday, May 23, 2008


Here's a correction from Mike in response to our post titled 'Subject Verb', which was directed at Robert Dumas. It was in reference to the use of the word 'are' for teams.

"I think he used it correctly. Here's how I recall the rule works: If the team acts collectively, then we use a singular verb. So, for instance, "the team is playing well today." The team here is the sum of its parts acting together in harmony to achieve a particular goal. That is, they're acting as one, and so we use a singular verb.

"However, if the team members act individually or if we're referring to individual members of the team, then we use a plural verb. So, it's correct to say "the team are Mike, Joel, Harry etc." Or, "the team are weighing in the dressing room", because each member of the team is weighing and as it's more than one individual we use a plural verb.
"I struggled with this usage the first time I came across it. And I agree it does sound awkward. But I guess it's one of those idiosyncrasies of the language we have to live with?