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  • Hi, welcome again to I'm Adam.

  • I have another great lesson for you today based on a request... a few requests actually from our site.

  • Today we're going to look at collective nouns.

  • An example of a collective noun: "staff," "police," "audience," "family."

  • These are nouns that might include individual members or be looked at as a whole unit. Okay?

  • So: "staff" means the total group of employees or it could mean each individual employee.

  • So, now you're thinking: "Okay, well, good. What's the problem?" The problem is: what verb do you use with these nouns?

  • Do you use a singular verb or do you use a plural verb? Okay?

  • So, for example: do you say: "The staff was invited to the BBQ." or do you say: "The staff were invited to the BBQ." ?

  • I'm afraid I have to tell you there's actually no rule that decides this. What decides this is you.

  • What do you want to say? What is your intention?

  • Do you want to talk about the individuals or do you want to talk about the group?

  • So, for example, look at this sentence: "My staff consists of young and old alike."

  • "Alike" is basically like "both," both young and old. Now, why am I using the singular?

  • Because here, I'm talking about my entire staff, my whole collection of employees. Right?

  • So I'm probably going to use the singular because I'm talking about the one unit.

  • Here, I could say both; I could say: "My staff," my entire unit of employees

  • or I could talk about all the individual people who work for me were invited to the BBQ.

  • So, again, it's more about what you want to intend... What you want to say, what you intend.

  • Sorry, you don't want to intend anything. Okay? Here's another example:

  • "My family are going to be citizens soon." "My family was invited to a wedding."

  • I have a plural, I have the singular; it depends what you want to say.

  • "My family" - means all the members of my family - "are going to be citizens soon."

  • It makes a bit more sense when you also have the plural here, "are" and "citizens."

  • It sounds a little bit more natural. "My family was invited to the wedding."

  • The Smiths, we... My family is the Smiths, so when the invitation came,

  • the Smiths are cordially invited to attend the wedding of Jack and Jill who last week went up the hill.

  • I'm not sure if you know this little poem. Anyway, so the same thing goes for "police," "audience," "couple," "faculty."

  • Lots of collective nouns. Depends what you want to say.

  • Now, usually... And keep in mind: this is also difficult for native English speakers to decide which one.

  • Keep in mind that usually in the U.S. and Canada, most people will automatically choose the singular:

  • "The staff is," "The police is," again, depending on the situation.

  • In the U.K., they will naturally or usually go for the plural: "The staff are," "The police are."

  • Now, again, let's look at: "police." I'll give you two examples.

  • Somebody was bothering my neighbor. Okay? And like they were like making noise.

  • My neighbour asked the person to leave. The person wouldn't leave, so she called the police.

  • They - the police - they came and removed this person.

  • But, I have to be very careful driving these days because the police is cracking down on texters; people who drive and text.

  • I don't do that, but I've seen them around. Right?

  • So this... You have to be careful which meaning you want to use.

  • Sometimes it'll be very natural, like I would only use the singular here because I'm talking about the whole unit.

  • Here, both okay. Do you want to talk about the individuals?

  • Do you want to talk about the group, the whole group? Now, if you want to be specific,

  • if you very clearly want to show that you're talking about the individuals, add a word: "staff members,"

  • "family members," "police officers." If you add these words that show the individuals,

  • you will have absolutely no problem. If I say: "staff members," obviously the verb will be plural because this is now the main subject.

  • And "staff" becomes the adjective, "family" becomes the adjective. Okay?

  • If I say: "police officers," "police" becomes the adjective, this is my subject,

  • and I'm going to use a plural verb. If I want to say one person,

  • one police officer, then of course I'm going to be talking... using the singular. Okay?

  • So, again, very straightforward. Whatever you intend to do, that's what will help you choose the verb.

  • But if you're not sure, go to: There's a quiz there where you can get a little bit more practice.

  • And, of course, visit my YouTube site, subscribe if you like.

  • And I'll see you again real soon.

Hi, welcome again to I'm Adam.

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A2 US staff police singular plural invited family

Advanced English Grammar: Collective Nouns

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    pao2ge posted on 2014/12/03
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