family name use

Robin Leech robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Sat Jun 22 11:09:38 CDT 1996

Having stuck my finger into this discussion just a few moments ago, I
will now expand upon the use of a verb with a collective noun.

If the group acts as one unit, use a singular verb.  When members of the
group act individually, thus creating more than one action, use a plural
verb.  Here are examples.


The senior class awaits final exams.
The couple in tweeds is engaged.


The senior class were fitted for their graduation robes today.
The couple say their vows today.

When I teach my students about collective noun/verb use, I emphasize the
former (singular verb) use.  Once they are are familiar and comfortable
with the use, I introduce the occasions for plural use.

Robin Leech

On Sat, 22 Jun 1996, Paul Selden wrote:

> Dear all
> I always thought that group names were equivalent to the English
> 'Parliament', which is used in the singular, though it is a body which
> consists of many parliamentarians (unlike 'data' which is a plural). Hence,
> if you want to use #1, use 'lamiaceans'.
> More importantly, what do you mean by 'strongly'?
> Paul Selden
> Dr Paul A. Selden
> Department of Earth Sciences
> University of Manchester
> Manchester M13 9PL
> United Kingdom
> Phone: 0161 275 3296
> Fax: 0161 275 3947

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