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Singular or Plural

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Pecos, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. Singular

  2. Pleural

    0 vote(s)
  3. Plural

    0 vote(s)
  1. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I have noticed a tendency in many on-line postings recently for the writer to refer to a company in the plural: "Olympus have released new firmware", or "Fuji now include a lens cap." I think this is a new phenomenon. To me it just sounds wrong. So I checked with several grammatical references and found that most (or all I could find) state that since companies are legal entities, the singular should be used. Thus "Facebook has..." done so-and-so, not "Facebook have...."

    I think it just plain makes more sense to use singular when referring to a company; on top of that it sounds better. I wonder if sometimes the plural is used because some folks feel it sounds more "educated" - not quite ostentatious, but surely-it-must-be-correct-since-it-sounds-different. Thus the line, "He gave the results to John and I."

    Companies may be considered collective nouns, and some have stated that in American English, when describing a collective noun (a group of people) one should use the singular, whereas in British English, the plural is used. For example, "The board (of directors) has decided..." vs "The board have decided...." Maybe my well-meaning friends from across the pond (or Down Under), then, are the sources of this cacophony. If so, you are forgiven.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  2. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Plural, not pleural. Pleural is a medical term.

    In recent years where anyone can create a website or a blog, I've noticed many have basic spelling and grammatical errors to the point that it's quite embarrassing. Unlike printed publications, many blogs and even websites don't have the luxury or financial means to have a full-time editor. However, most writing apps do have spell check as well as basic grammar check. I do wish that many of these bloggers could understand that if their written words are to be taken seriously, they should put a little more effort into their communication skills.
  3. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    Thanks for pointing that out. Corrected the title at least. Guess I've got pleura on my mind.
  4. WRay

    WRay Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 23, 2012
    Riverside, California
    Singular in the U.S. but plural in most other English speaking countries!
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. alan1972

    alan1972 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 23, 2012
    Malaga, Spain
    Alan Grant
    In Britain and Ireland it is normal to refer to sports teams as plural in both formal and informal contexts. See any reference to team sports on the BBC website for example - today's headlines include "Australia beat Ireland at Stormont" and "Arsenal face Bayern in Champions league". I suppose in U.S. English the verbs would be "beats" and "faces". I think for many of us we think of a sports team more as a collection of individuals rather than a singular entity.

    For companies I think there is more variation. I would generally expect to see a company referred to in the singular in a news report, even in Britain and Ireland. Again taking the BBC as an example we have "Google rejects EU abuse complaint". But informally both forms are used, possibly influenced by whether the writer at that moments happens to visualise the company as a legal entity or a collection of staff (or perhaps in this forum a collection of Olympus engineers). And companies often refer to themselves as "we" - I think even American companies do this.
  6. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Think of a company as what it is: a company of men.

    Hence, when referring to the actions of the company as a single entity, use the singular, and when referring to the actions of the company as a multitude, use plural.

    *men and women, of course :th_salute:
  7. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Hence there is no appropriate poll option for me. ;) 
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. EdH

    EdH Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 14, 2014
    Devon, UK
    It should definitely be singular in the UK too. I remember a sub-editor telling me I'd got it wrong in one of the first stories in my first job! (My degree had been in engineering rather than in English or journalism!)
  9. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    According to the US supreme court a corporation is a person. so singular, it's the law. View attachment 435814
  10. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    American vs UK English. Both are correct in their countries. Not unique to English of course.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    It's just linguistic evolution in action. Today's broken rules are tomorrow's correct usage. If the rules weren't always changing we'd still be speaking and writing Chaucer's English with only the addition of new words. That's not the case.

    This one is lost in my view. In fact it may already be "correct" or "acceptable" to use the plural but I haven't checked any of the current editions on the books which tell you what correct grammar and usage is since I left school 50 years ago. I do remember that new editions of those books come out every few years so there have probably been several new editions since the last time I looked at one, and a lot of things that were once incorrect are now accepted as correct. All it eventually takes is for a particular practice to become really common and it eventually becomes accepted. The rules of language aren't fixed, they change all the time.

    Ultimately what counts is whether the intended meaning is conveyed accurately. Whether or not you treat a company name as singular or plural rarely interferes with the accurate conveyance of the intended meaning. That's why I think this particular issue is well on the way to acceptance if it isn't already there.
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