Category Archives: Grammar

Plural verb for collective noun

This is the Great White Whale of this blog. (Well, one of them, along with you lot and I should have done.) Every once in a while, I am tempted to shout, “Thar she blows!” Wes Davis recently suggested to me that he spied a large albino form on the horizon, so I hunted around and came up with:

“The team are planning for its first trip in June and hopes to begin work by documenting natural orchid pollination…” (Jacksonville Courier, January 28)

“The team are composed of two types of people who usually don’t mingle.” (Bradenton Herald, January 27)

“As for the Midwest bias, I imagine it’s because the team are Big 10 fans or because Robb Heineman is a Notre Dame guy.” (Kansas City Star, January 10)

This may sound impressive, but in fact these are outliers, squeezed to the margins by a sea of the team is‘s. And it would be a fool’s errand to even look for the government are or the company are.

Still, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Onward and upward with “had got”

I have noted the New Yorker’s insistence on having its writers use the British “had got” instead of American “had gotten.” But the magazine seems to have kicked things up a notch; now, people being quoted are required to use it as well. In an April 25 profile of Reed Krakoff, CEO of Coach Leather, Krakoff recalls a period when “I had got poison ivy on my hands.”‘ I submit that every American, of which Krakoff is one, would have said gotten. Anyone disagree?