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Author Topic: Okay, grammar folks...  (Read 1320 times)
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davdud101
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« on: Mar 20, 2017, 09:26AM »

Not sure why, but I was just thinking about this this morning....

We say, "He finds the chicken is too dry", but "They find the chicken is too dry".
But often times, you see written things like, "A group of scientists find that chicken is dry".

This is incorrect grammar, is it not?

Seems like it should be "A group of scientists finds...", since we're basically saying, "A group finds..."

We're referring to "A group" of scientists, not the "multiple" scientists themselves, eh?
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 20, 2017, 09:42AM »

ah, the joys of English grammar...
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 20, 2017, 09:54AM »

Seems like it should be "A group of scientists finds...", since we're basically saying, "A group finds..."

Yes.
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davdud101
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 20, 2017, 10:09AM »

ah, the joys of English grammar...
Bingo. We've got some stuff that I find to be just silly.

But English phonetics is where we really take the cake in the "making as much confusion as possible"-game.
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 20, 2017, 10:23AM »

I've noticed the same thing, Davdud. There must be a rule that covers it.

"A large number of people are ignoring the signs."

The subject of the sentence is 'number'('of people' is a modifying phrase), but "A large number of people is ignoring the signs" sounds ridiculous.

My ear tells me that if it sounds like you're talking about the 'people', then 'a number of' functions as an adjective, like 'many'.

"A group of" could function in the same way. In some cases, you're really talking about the group--"A New York group of scientists has issued a paper." In other cases it's the other way around.

I'm kind of feeling my way through this.
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 20, 2017, 10:30AM »

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A collective noun refers to a whole group as a single entity but also to the members of that group.

A collective noun names a group of individuals or things with a singular form. Examples of collective nouns are: faculty, herd, team. There are collective nouns for people, animals, objects, and concepts. The use of a singular or plural verb depends on the context of the sentence. If one is referring to the whole group as a single entity, then the singular verb is best: The school board has called a special session. When a group noun is used with a singular determiner (e.g., a/an, each, every, this, that), singular verbs and pronouns are normal: The team is away this weekend; they have a good chance of winning. There are other contexts where the plural verb is more natural: My family are always fighting among themselves. When the individuals in the collection or group receive the emphasis, the plural verb is acceptable. Generally, however, in American English, collective nouns take singular verbs. In British English, collective nouns are more often treated as plurals that take plural verbs.
[emphasis added]

I wasn't too far off. I would go farther (further?) and say that the plural verb is strongly preferable, not just acceptable, in some sentences.

http://blog.dictionary.com/collective-nouns/
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 20, 2017, 10:53AM »

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Generally, however, in American English, collective nouns take singular verbs. In British English, collective nouns are more often treated as plurals that take plural verbs.

The one I find jarring is a British journalist writing something like, "The United States are planning to...."


A quick scan of the Constitution doesn't show me a clear case either way of it being seen as singular or plural at that time. 

The phrase i keep seeing is "The United States shall..." which could be interpreted either way.

Here's a graph of the prevalence of "The United States is" vs. "The United States are" in English lit...

Google Ngram Viewer


Since about the Civil War, the US has been more "is" than "are".

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« Reply #7 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:05AM »

English grammar is different from American grammar.  In England a company or business entity is referred to as a plural while in the US it is referred to as a singular.  Same goes for organized groups.  They say "The government have ..." and we say The government has ..."
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:10AM »

English grammar is different from American grammar.  In England a company or business entity is referred to as a plural while in the US it is referred to as a singular.  Same goes for organized groups.  They say "The government have ..." and we say The government has ..."


I'll note that even in British English lit, "the government has" is more prominent.


Perhaps there is an elitist appeal for the users of "have"?


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« Reply #9 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:15AM »

"Gryffindor win!!!!"

All the American kids is scratching they're heads like "whuuut?".

I remember being very disturbed by that line in Harry Potter. Because Gryffindor wins. They don't win.  .... wait.... It doesn't win. ... wait. ... Gryffindor don't wins

There we go
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:23AM »

The British examples are explained in the little blurb I posted--apparently the British are more likely to use a plural verb for a collective noun.

George Bernard Shaw called us "two nations divided by a common language."
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:27AM »

"Gryffindor win!!!!"

All the American kids is scratching they're heads like "whuuut?".

I remember being very disturbed by that line in Harry Potter. Because Gryffindor wins. They don't win.  .... wait.... It doesn't win. ... wait. ...

I like that last bit. You might have just revealed the wisdom of the English--we're likely to refer to Gryffindor as 'they', not 'it', in that context. The second example was waylaid by the word doesn't, because that word satisfies the need for a singular verb. In other words, "It wins".
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:33AM »

Gryffindor don't wins. Gryffindor win.
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 20, 2017, 11:36AM »

Gryffindor don't wins. Gryffindor win.

LOL! You may have come up with a statement that's impossible to properly make.
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davdud101
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:21PM »

"Gryffindor win!!!!"

All the American kids is scratching they're heads like "whuuut?".

I remember being very disturbed by that line in Harry Potter. Because Gryffindor wins. They don't win.  .... wait.... It doesn't win. ... wait. ... Gryffindor don't wins

There we go

Looking at this though, we DO we say (in the case that Gryffindor is reffered to in singular) "Gryffindor wins", but adding the "doesn't" make it so that "Gryffindor doesn't WIN"? Obviously we don't typically say "Gryffindor win not", like in other languages, but we also sort of remove the reference to whether it's still singular or plural (if I'm thinking straight). Sounds just like an evolution of grammar thing regarding the words don't and doesn't.


Gryffindor don't wins. Gryffindor win.

Funniest thing I've read all day!
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:25PM »

'A group of scientists' is singular, 'scientists' is (usually) plural.

'A group of scientists finds a cure for cancer' Good!  You are referring to a single identifiable group.
'Scientists find a cure for cancer'  Good!  You are referring several individually identifiable scientists.
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:32PM »

It's "a groups of scientist go to the park"
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:37PM »

"Gryffindor win!!!!"
 Again, this referrers to individually identifiable members of Gryffindor, not a single entity.  Sure Gryffindor are a collective, but not all members of Gryffindor played the match.  If you wanted to use the singular, group the Quiddich team together and say "The Gryffindor team wins!!!!"
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:40PM »

It's "a groups of scientist go to the park"
Well that's jut bent....
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:40PM »

this is so much easier in spanish.
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