British English group grammar

I’m reading Sound on Sound (English recording mag) and this pops up

If this were from America, I’d say that’s awful grammar. Should be “Audix offers an alternative.”

I’ve also seen English folk say “Coldplay are awful” as opposed to “Coldplay is awful.” Why does UK English classify proper group names as plural? Why do Americans classify them as singular?

This is another one of the British/American English grammar questions to which the only answer is “They do it because they do it.” There’s no deep reason why the British do it one way and the Americans do it another way. Most choices in grammar are arbitrary, so it’s not worth the time to debate how such choices were made (and it’s an immense waste of time to debate which choice is better).

I’m pretty sure we’ve done so here in the past :smiley: (with respect to sports team names)

It’s my opinion that the British way of doing this is deeply and offensively wrong. Like putting an “R” in the middle of the word “drawing”, it grates on my ears.

The “official” position is apparently when the group is referred to by its members, you use the plural, and when it’s just the organisation, you use the singular. However, in practice nobody does this: they use the plural almost exclusively. I spend a lot of time correcting copy in which this usage stands out to me like a paedophile on a bouncy castle.

Get deeply offended by the mundane facts of the world if you want, but I hardly see the point in it. As Wendell Wagner said, there’s really no point debating which way is better; they’re just arbitrary differences, with some speech communities having gone one way and others having gone another way. You can try to argue that one is more “logical” than the other till you’re blue in the face, but up against the mass of other “illogical”, but uncontroversial, aspects of language, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

Who said anything about logic?

No! I shall go down fighting! England are not going to defeat me!

ETA - Horrible thought: combining both would make my head explode.

E.g. “America-R-are fighting in Iraq.”

Woe is I!

This is similar to the question I asked here. (A long time ago, so please don’t resurrect that thread)

Spoken (and to a certain extent, written) English can seem horribly uncomfortable with what is in fact the correct grammar in these sorts of constructions.

I suppose you wouldn’t be a fan of “Wore is I” either. :slight_smile:

Just out of curiosity, are you an English native? Your location would have led me to believe so, before this thread.

I am native English, but I’ve been living out of the country for many years, and only returned a year and a half ago. One tends to notice these things more keenly after a protracted absence.

“War is” would be fine - the R would be correctly pronounced, as would “Wore is” or “Car is”. However, “Paw is” would also contain an R too. Grrr.

Aw, the editing window is gone, but the better comment would have been the pun “Aw, don’t work yourself into such linguistic woes. After all, woe is hell”.

Ah, now I get you!

Actually, the “o” sound doesn’t generate a non-rhotic intrusive R. It would generate a “w” sound: “Woe-w-is me”.

Slight nitpick from an Englishman:

You heard English folk. Altho’ I suppose you could have seen and heard

Oh and Coldplay are crap

Yeah, that makes sense. I guess it’s more the “aw” sound that would make what I was going for, as in Lennon’s “I sore a film today, oh boy.”

Audix offer a good alternative to the usual suspects…

Audix PLC offers a good

The Beatles were a phenomenon of

It’s curious, but it seems to be related to whether the writer considers a group a single entity or a collection of individuals.

From the perspective of a British English speaker, I would say that it is an indication of the writer’s view of the homogeneity of a group.

For example ‘Arsenal is cr/p’ definitely sounds wrong.

There’s a classic piece of graffiti on the Oxford Ring Road that only British speakers should get:

A sign to Swindon has been amended thus:


Swindon and Oxford are football rivals; furthermore Swindon as a town is looked down on by most people.

“You are now entering Manchester, fuck off we don’t need you”

Classic graffiti on the East Lancs Road connecting Liverpool to Manchester.

It was erased after 2 days

The house style I work to in British English is to use the singular for company names, e.g. “British Telecom is utterly incompetent”, but plural for sports teams and bands.

Would Americans really say “The Beatles is one of the most influential bands…” or would the plural in the band name over-rule the, er, rule?

When I lived in Europe and read Brit newspapers, the World Cup coverage would say things like:

“If England win the big game…”

I guess they were talking about the team as 11 players, not one entity. I couldn’t get used to it.