Is it correct to say ‘my family is’ or ‘my family are’? ‘A group of us is meeting tomorrow’ or ‘A group of us are meeting tomorrow’? You’ll find out as we take a look at singular nouns, plural verbs and quantifying expressions in this podcast.
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Pronunciation of ‘would’ (sounds like ‘good’)
Do and does
‘Firefox don’t store your data’ (they or it?)
‘The vast majority don’t…’ (the vast majority of people)
‘The majority’ is a quantifying expression.
Many singular quantifying expressions can be used with plural nouns and pronouns. In this case, we use plural verbs. For example:
The (vast) majority of people are vaccinated.
A group of us are going out for a drink. Do you want to come?
A number of candidates have tried to cheat in the exam, but few have succeeded.
Half of Craig’s students don’t understand a word he says. (Not X
Half of his students doesn’t…X)
A couple of my friends are going to Madrid for Christmas. (Not X
A couple of my friends is…X
Singular nouns with plural verbs
Family, team and government are examples of groups of people that can be used either with plural or singular verbs and pronouns:
My team is/are playing tomorrow.
My family have decided to come to us for Christmas dinner. They don’t want to cook this year.
The average British family spends 740 pounds more (29% more) in December than it spends the rest of the year.
The government, who are hoping to ease lockdown restrictions soon, have been under a lot of criticism.
The government, which is elected by a majority in a democracy, stays in power for 4 years. (the pronoun which is often used when we think of the group as an impersonal unit)
My company are wonderful. They gave me a 500-euro Christmas bonus this year.
My company was founded in 1996.
A lot (of + plural noun) can go with singular or plural verb to be
There is/are a lot of people here today.
A lot of pills isn’t/aren’t good for you.
Sometimes singular and plural forms are mixed:
The band gave its first concert in Valencia and they went on to play live in Madrid and Barcelona.
The government, which is disliked by many people, are a bunch of liars!
The club who have beaten us was created by amateurs.
Some more group nouns that can be used with plural and singular verbs in British English
England (the national team)
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is/are world-famous.
England have/has just lost the cricket test match to Australia.
The public is/are patiently following the pandemic safety guidelines.
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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On next week’s episode: Ireland
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