Why the recent subject-verb disagreement epidemic?

I hear it mostly from British speakers, for example “Manchester United score the first goal of the match!”. To wit, Manchester United is the name of 1 soccer team and should therefore take the singular verb form 'scores". Saying “The determined players of Man. U. score first!” would be OK.

I’ve also heard it recently in an American podcast where the speaker would say for example “Volvo make fine electric cars now”. Bzzzt…wrong: “Volvo makes fine electric cars”…

It offends my ears and seems to have come on in the last couple of years - anyone here concur?

When it’s you against the world, back the world.

You’re saying that observed features of a widely-spoken language are wrong because… why, exactly? What authority do you have to declare them wrong? Hint: None.

The real answer to your question is simple: You’re hearing dialects different from your own for the first time, apparently, and you don’t like them because they’re unfamiliar. You’ve made the leap from “I don’t like them” to “They’re wrong” based on flatus and nothing, and now you apparently expect others to go along with you. To use something from a dialect closer to my own, that dog won’t hunt.

We’ve done this before here. Mostly it’s an editorial choice with North American English preferring “makes” and British English preferring “make.”

Neither is incorrect.

The difference between British English and American English you provide as your first example is a longstanding one. British English treats a collective group as plural for verb agreement purposes. The British Army are advancing, while their ally the U.S. Army is advancing.

Maybe someone can explain why Americans add an ‘s’ to the end of Lego. Lego is a brand name and a bunch of Lego is still Lego, not Legos.

Yes, this is the reason for what the OP is noticing, and yes, in no way is this anything new, but rather how British English has always been, I believe.

So instead of a “recent epidemic,” what we have is confirmation bias, maybe.

One might have heard more recently because of the World Cup, where American announcers might conform to soccer fans’ expectation of verb agreements because of most of the announcers speaking British English. Additionally, some Americans may have even internalized some sort of rule that it’s “more proper” to consider organization names as plural, because the British are “more proper” in their use of language seeing as it’s originally their language. Some Americans might simply think that how they and their friends speak is wrong if the rest of the world speaks another way. And really, most of the English spoken in the rest of the world is descended more directly from British English than the American version. The American version may get more media time, but those that are learning in school are learning the British grammar.


As several posters have pointed out, this is not remotely anything new. It’s just a difference between American and British English. Here are several websites where this is explained:

Maybe it’s the same reason that Brits talk about “hoovering a carpet”. Hoover is a brand name, not a verb. :wink:

Languages change over time.

My mother is a prime offender with the additional -s. Costco to her is “Costcos” (not sure if she apostrophizes it in her mind), the show Seinfeld is “Seinfelds,” and so on.

So, to answer bob++, it’s my mum’s fault.

Tell me NetTrekker, do you say “The police is investigating” or “The police are investigating”?

That’s a common example of a collective noun taking the plural verb form in North American English n

They aren’t that, either. They are LEGO bricks.

It’s not even a rule of thumb in North America either. For example we would say “New York” wins the world series, and also “The Red Sox win the world series.”

Really? Do you also call several cans of soda “Coke” not “Cokes” or “Coca Cola” not “Coca Colas”? Do both you and your SO (assuming you have one) have two iPhone?

Adding an s to make a plural of a trade name is quite common

I caught five fish yesterday. That’s good BE, right?

New York --> city name --> singular; Yankees --> players --> plural

Boston --> city name --> singular; Red Sox --> players --> plural

New York wins, Yankees win; Boston wins, Red Sox win

“The police” is plural, so “are” is conventional. If you said “the police department” it would be singular…“is investigating”.

I’m not listening until you agree to drop that ridiculous “s” from “maths.”

Yeah, but there’s also the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Utah Jazz, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Fire, the D.C. United, etc. The name of the team is something that’s usually considered a singular noun, but we usually say “the Heat are”, “the Magic were”, “the Jazz have”, “the Fire play at”, “the Avalanche leave for”, etc. So there certainly are cases where American teams are referred to by what’s usually considered a singular noun, but the verb used in the sentence is one that’s usually used for plural nouns. In your examples, NetTrekker, you only talked about teams where the team name is usually considered a plural noun.