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Using (IS / are) and (have / has) when talking about a team.

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I'm looking for which is the proper word to use when speaking of a team of people.

context :

The Unix support team are/is investigating the issue. The support team has/have investigated the issue and found the problem.

I'd like to get the references of the rule used to decide if possible. Thanks !

NN comments
bill
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Are you targeting an American audience or an English audience? In general, Americans treat a group as a singular (Congress is in session) and English treat a group as a plural (Parliament are in session). http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/they.html

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2 answers

3

gmagana

You are talking about one team, so use the singular (is/have). The fact that a team has (potentially) more than one person in it is not relevant (it is still one team).

EDIT: To better make the point, see the following two statements:

The Unix support team is investigating the issue. The support team has investigated the issue and found the problem.

The Unix support team members are investigating the issue. The team members have investigated the issue and found the problem.

NN comments
gmagana
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Ah, great to know! Thanks!

bill
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“so use the singular (is/have)” – typo: should be (is/has)

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2

donald remero [ Moderator ]

The examples given about the Unix team are clearly singular in meaning.

The Allyn & Bacon Handbook which has been widely used in U.S. colleges for years states that "Collective nouns have plural or a singular sense depending on the meaning of a sentence."

The AB Handbook attempts to clarify its opinion by stating that when a noun (such as audience, band, bunch, committee, crew, crowd, faculty, family, group, team, staff, tribe, etc.) "refers to individuals and their separate actions within a group, the sense of the noun is plural and the noun takes a plural verb."

Thus, to say that "The support team have different opinions about what the problem is" would not be incorrect.

It is clear to me, however, that there is a difference in sensibility about this between British and American speakers, with British speakers being far more likely to say the "The team are going home" than a typical American, even though the meaning is exactly the same.

NN comments
j. d. o'conal
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You are very perceptive. The data do suggest that AmE speakers favour singular while BrE speakers are entirely happy to use plural verbs with collective nouns.

gmagana
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The funny thing is… I’m Mexican… :–)

donald remero
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I’ve been reminded by Canadians before that they live in America too, given that (North) America is the name of the continent and not a specific country. “Funny how people in The States think that only they are ‘America’” is how I remember one of them putting it. Not sure this is a predominant view in Canada, but I do think it is funny, I like remembering it, and there is certainly an ounce or more of truth in it as well.

frenchk
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I am located in canada, but my audience is worldwide and is why i am trying to validate which was the proper form. :) thanks you’ve all been a great help.

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