Re: 3rd person singular neutral X 3rd person plural ?
On Thursday 15 May 2008 09:54:11 martin f krafft wrote:
> also sprach Andre Felipe Machado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > A- third person singular neutral (it, the Debian Project)
> > B- third person plural (they, the Debian Project)
> One project, two projects. It, they.
It is not as simple as that. I realise the original questioner won't like the
answer but the answer is "it depends". Both of these are natural to me
(native British English):
Debian is 10 years old. [Subject is singular]
Debian have elected a new leader. [Subject is plural]
In fact, I would have no trouble saying "The Debian project is 10 years old
and they have elected a new leader".
In UK English (but not in US), "corporate" bodies are plural, at least when
viewed as a multi-headed entity. A Brit would say: "My bank have
over-charged me" (an American would say "my bank has over-charged me").
On the other hand, a Brit would probably say "HSBC is a FTSE 100 company",
although some might use the plural even in that case (and it is still "a
company"!). And just to confuse you, I would say "My bank is HSBC" and "HSBC
are my bank"!
Sorry about that, but that is the strangeness of the English language. The
difference is subtle, of course. I think it depends on whether you are
thinking of the corporate body in the abstract (singular) or as an actor
consisting of a collection of people (plural). If in doubt, use the plural
in British English and the singular in American English.
I deal with this issue quite frequently as I am a Brit working in marketing
for an American company. My colleagues and I each hate the way the other
writes press releases! I write "<my company> are the world leader in ..." and
my colleagues question my basic language skills as they cross out "are" and
write "is"! If the release is aimed at a Commonwealth audience I get my own
back as I change it back again!!