Saturday, January 19, 2013

Collective Nouns


When this headline appeared (Straits Times, 2 August 2012), quite a few people apparently wrote to the folks at the Speak Good English Movement to ask if the singular verb win was a mistake.

It is not: in British English, collective nouns are often treated as plural, particularly sports teams — hence, Manchester United are the champions, and Singapore win individual Olympic medal.

While British English makes a distinction between collective nouns functioning as a single unit (= singular verb) or as individuals who happen to belong in the same group (= plural), American English and Singapore English almost always treat collective nouns as singular.

The exception in Singapore English, however, is sports reporting, which consistently follows British practice, as the headline shows.

1 comment:

Amy L. said...

Thanks, Ludwig. I love reading yr blog.