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Does you even grammar

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Apr 14, 2019 at 9:46 AM
Beakface
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#1
You know how verbs get modified depending on the subject that comes before it? Examples include "he is", "you are", "I walk", "she walks", etc. For the longest time, I was confused on whether or not a group of people, like a band or a company would be treated as a singular or plural. Apparently it not only depends on the way the name is presented, but also which type of English it is. British English would (supposedly) refer to the company as a plural (Nitrome are?) versus American English, which refers to the company as a singular (Nitrome is).

It's so intriguing that there's different ways of spelling and structuring sentences, and that these approaches can often directly conflict with each other. I sometimes feel like it's to the point where if I see the British English way of treating a group of people with a plural verb, my internal grammar sensors go off to the point where it frustrates me internally. I know in the end, it's not a huge deal so long as you can understand what the person is saying or ask for further clarification, but grammar was one of those things that was hammered into me at an early age, where I was taught two completely different things at school and at home. Even though those two things clash with each other, I feel like what I learned at home often took precedence. I assumed the grammar rules I learned from there to be the universal truth, and I wonder if this is the reason why people like myself sometimes get kind of worked up about certain grammatical flairs and stuff like that. People in the ORG server probably know what I'm talking about. :awesomeface: Who knows, maybe there's an English out there where "your doing good" is grammatically (or contextually?) correct and suddenly, everyone's world will get turned upside down.

But yeah, what verb do you all normally use for the whole collective noun thing like a company or band? I know a good portion of people here probably aren't either British or American, and I'm finding more and more that Canadian English (if that's even a thing) is more like a mashup between these two types of English. Are there any other grammatical differences between, well, those two in particular that also conflict with each other? Who are you supposed to trust on these sorts of rules, anyway?
 
Apr 14, 2019 at 12:11 PM
Administrator
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#2
It's "are" over in Australia.

If the group name uses a plural term like "people" in "the people next door" the "are" would kick in automatically either way. The main issue is with proper nouns (at least to my understanding). The singular vs plural difference in this case stems from whether the group is treated as a single collective entity (band/company/etc.) vs a collective of multiple individual entities (people). It's like the Schrodinger's cat of singular vs plural, it's both at the same time.

Though I'm curious now, would it be "the wolf pack are" or "the wolf pack is" in the US? I'm assuming it's the former but I want to be sure.
 
Apr 14, 2019 at 1:03 PM
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#3
As I know it, it's purely contextual.

The rule which I usually go with is: If this band name is called with a plural noun, you can address it with plural forms of some verb. " 'The Beatles' are known as the 'Liverpool Four' ", for example. Except there are also bands called "Yes", "The Who", "Crying", and whatever else you could think of (I'm sure there is or was a band for it), and in this case you'll need to know the rest of the sentence.

Here's the American English rule:
" 'Yes' is a progressive rock band performing today at 9:00 PM" - here you reference the band as one, single unit.
AND
" 'Yes' are those 5 fellas who will be performing today at 9:00 PM" - here you address the band as separate members. This sounds very weird when spoken, but it's grammatically correct. You can replace "Yes" with any other band name which doesn't have plurals in their name.

In andwhyisit's case, it's "the wolf pack is". The problem is, of course, what constitutes as a "single unit". You can't exactly tell with proper nouns (names), really. You can, though, try to use grammatical structures that aren't confusing, for example, passive voice.
 
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Apr 14, 2019 at 5:26 PM
Tommy Thunder
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#4
Man, this is yet another one of those grammatical things where I always assumed that the way I was taught, referring to a collective group of people as "is," was the correct way to do it. Referring to a group as "are" has always looked strange to me, but I had no idea that it was yet another difference between British and American English.

I'm finding more and more that Canadian English (if that's even a thing) is more like a mashup between these two types of English.
Whoa, is that actually true? I thought that Canadians only used British English because of the way they spell things and used certain punctuation, but I wasn't aware Canadians used some sort of ungodly amalgamation of both versions. Is that more of an informal rule, or is it that the "official" usage of English in Canada?

@metallicLurker, I'm again impressed by your understanding of English rules, especially considering the country you live in. Thank you for clarifying things further. :D
 
Apr 14, 2019 at 6:05 PM
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#5
yeah canadian is the halfway between american and british english. we (usually) use british spelling and we (usually) use american colloquialisms but there's no real rule to any of it, just whatever happens to have stuck over the years

Different forms of English handle verb agreement with collective count nouns differently; in particular, users of British English generally accept that collective nouns take either singular or plural verb forms depending on context and the metonymic shift that it implies.
I feel this quote from wikipedia reflects my experiences. For example:
"Nitrome is releasing a new game"
"Nitrome are bastards for banning me from their messaging board"

I think "The wolf pack" is preferably treated as singular in all cases however. I cant think of a usage with "are" that feels correct.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 1:26 AM
Beakface
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#6
ungodly amalgamation
I can’t believe you would say this to my language. :(

But yeah I forgot that sometimes, the rules are based on context. I always thought it was the subject before that modified the verb, but it’s interesting that the stuff that comes after the verb is what modifies it in that context. So then it would be like “Nitrome have 12 employees” or “Nitrome consist of 12 employees” because I’m referring to the individual members? For some reason, that example just feels weird when it doesn’t use the singular verb.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 2:08 AM
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#7
So then it would be like “Nitrome have 12 employees” or “Nitrome consist of 12 employees” because I'm referring to the indiviual members?
Well, no. In this particular case, you're still referring to Nitrome as a single, united company. It's Nitrome that consists of 12 members, not the 12 members consisting of 12 members.
If you want to say "Nitrome are", you should immediately make it clear that you're specifically referring to individual members that form Nitrome. For example:
" 'Nitrome' are those 12 computer geeks."
This sounds more natural when you're referring to bands:
" 'One Direction' are the best, especially Harry Styles!"

Again, you'll need to know what a "single unit" is. It's not so easy to tell at glance. This might not be a big problem to native English speakers, but when I heard:
"70 dollars is way too much to spend on videogames."
I couldn't understand, at first, because I've never referred to 70 dollars as a collective sum of money before.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 6:20 AM
Everything Else Is Irrelevant
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#8
I was expecting a shitpost thread via the title, a very lowkey good troll in the OP, and now that I'm in the comments I'm both educated and confused.

I'm on the west Coast of the USA and we speak the most boring version of English here, It's like almost identical to what you hear on the news stations in the USA.

I can't really thing of any time you would use "are" to refer to a group acting as one unit. "We are the CSTSF" sounds very normal over here, as it's referring to a bunch of individuals as one group, but you would say the "CSTSF is going to modcon" since they are all acting as one group. (and assuming modcon is a real place like Comic Con)

Also slightly on topic: I still can't wrap my head around how people use "they" to refer to genderless people. They, at least where I'm from always refers to multiple people, except in very few cases like "BLink updated their status" but even that sounds really weird when you start to think about it.

But you use "they" to refer to entities as one group still! "They are the CSTSF" "They are going to modcon" I'm getting more and more confused the more I think about this so I'm going to stop now.

I actually can't thing of a single case you would use "they is". That sounds like you're not native/retarded at least in America afaik.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 8:36 AM
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#9
"They" has been bastardised by the LGBTIQ croud of late. "They" refers to a group by default unless the subject is defined as singular before "they" is used. Singular they is a bitch to use properly as an all-purpose gender-neutral pronoun in general speech because it wasn't ever designed that way, so people get lazy and try to force the word to work in ways it was never meant to. It is meant to work like "I'll be going to see the doctor so they can prescribe me some medicine".
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 8:50 AM
Cave++ Developer
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#10
That's an awfully blunt way to put it.
It's the less awkward alternative to simply referring to people as some weird made up pronouns when they don't want to conform to the binary. Just because a word wasn't meant to work some way doesn't mean that the definition and usage of it could evolve to be completely different than its original intent. Usually to describe gender neutral people in a group setting you'd rely on using 'they' still, and would rely on context clues to piece together the proper sentence. Casual conversation is what shaped those desires to change the language, and it works perfectly fine for those that use it.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 1:21 PM
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#11
fwiw i use singular they a lot for ambiguous situations and don't find it to be burdonsome at all. after all, isn't "they" an implicit noun anyway? you should either already know the plurality of the subject in most situations anyway, or it's probably not important. there's just one big quirk i guess that it's always conjugated plural afaict

"did you hear about what nintendo is doing"
"yeah they're finally making a new metroid prime game"

"The criminal is a very mysterious person. They always leave an origami crane at the scene of the crime"

Sure, it would be better to have a proper gender-neutral third person pronoun without having to call people "it" but I think "they" is a lot more likely to catch on than coming up with some new word whole-cloth.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 1:57 PM
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#12
Singular "they" has been in use since 14th Century.
http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/200700

Its usage has been criticized in 19th Century, then it got brought back nowadays.
There was a strawman problem with using "he" as the gender-neutral pronoun; "xe", "ve", etc. aren't as fortunate either. "One" is too official and may make the text progressively harder to read.
So, "they" became a compromise, as a gender-neutral pronoun used to address anybody you don't know that much. It's even accepted in formal documents and texts.

Out of all languages I've ever learnt, only English has noticeable problems with neutral pronouns. It's... weird.
 
Apr 15, 2019 at 4:25 PM
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#13
The only reason we're all speaking English here is because of the market power of one or two rather large countries. If America hadn't existed we all probably would've opted for french, German, or Chinese. To the best of my knowledge, at least. The language has evolved a drastic amount over the past hundred or so years, sure, but there are plenty of anomalies that have yet to be fixed, and with the changing tides of society, one could maybe hope that this language will be improved for the betterment of not only the efficiency of our everyday conversing, but the actual amount of meaning one is able to draw from a small amount of words. I'm glad we don't have multiple alphabets like many (if not all) east Asian languages.

Though apparently that doesn't affect how fast you can learn the language? Something about English being the hardest language to learn- I didn't read up on it.
 
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