1. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Are or Is?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tyler Danann, Mar 27, 2015.

    Should this passage have an 'are' in it?

    "Yet our expeditionary force is few in number, no thanks to your failure in Wyoming."

    The force in question is made up of dozens of people.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    As an American, there is only one answer for me: is. In America, collective nouns are always treated as collective nouns and always treated in the singular.
     
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  3. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    ~Thanks.

    Although i was born in Albion I write for the American marketplace. :)
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    From my UK perspective, a collective noun is always singular - it irritates the hell out of me whenever I hear something like "The group are down to their last few days of food..." - I'd be OK with "The members of the group are down...", because there it's a plural number of members that is the noun to which the verb refers.
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the complication here is the "few in number" more than the collective noun. If the sentence was "our expeditionary force is small", no one would be confused, but the "few in number" seems awkward when referring to a singular noun.

    Does that make sense to anyone but me?
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For me, agreed. When I hear strange constructions like, "Microsoft are announcing a new product today," that just makes me think that poor Microsoft is suffering from dissociative identity disorder. It's been explained to me that when the plural is used it's because the people that make up Microsoft are in reference rather than Microsoft the entity and all I can think is that sounds like quite a bit of horse shit.
     
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  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it makes sense - the "few in number" implies that there is a number of them (see, I didn't even blink about using the singular verb!) and that number is greater than one. However, it's still "our expeditionary force" that is the noun.
     
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