Sunday, November 18, 2012

The government ___ decided ...: HAVE or HAS?

Today I got asked a question that has been asked again and again: Should we use plural or singular verb with words like "the government"?

Below is the answer taken from ESL Forums. I think their answer is totally adequate, so I don't have to add anything here.

The government have (or has?) decided to do something about pollution.

In English, we often use singular nouns that refer to groups of people (eg government, committee, team) as if they were plural. This is less true in US English.

This is because we often think of the group as people, doing things that people do (eating, wanting, feeling etc).

In such cases, we use:

    - plural verb
    - plural pronoun (they)
    - who (not which)
Here are some examples:

- The committee want sandwiches for lunch. They aren't very hungry.
- My family, who don't see me often, have asked me home.
- The team hope to win next time.

Here are some examples of words and expressions that can be considered singular or plural:

    choir, class, club, committee, company, family, government, jury, school, staff, team, union

    the BBC, board of directors, the Conservative Party, Manchester United, the Ministry of Health
But when we consider the group as an impersonal unit, we use singular verbs and pronouns:

- The new company is the result of a merger.
- The average family consists of four people.
- The committee, which was formed in 1983, has ceased to exist.


Monday, November 12, 2012

"John is the tallest ___ all my friends" (AMONG or OF?)

I received a grammar question in one of the comments. The verbatim comment is below:

Cô Phương Anh mến, một giáo viên Anh văn bảo chúng tôi không được nói/viết "John is the tallest AMONG my friends", mà phải dùng OF thay vì AMONG, trong khi chúng tôi cho là được. Vậy cô Phương Anh có thể cho biết ý kiến của cô không; rất cám ơn cô. Chúc cô vui khỏe.

Actually this is one of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about English grammar whose answer can be found on the Internet. Below are some questions and answers on the same grammar point that I've  just found:

"Marvin is the tallest among/of all." Do both among and of fit in the above? Thanks.
If you really want to know the truth, search at Google
on the BBC and the New York sites. You can do that by searching for: "tallest of all"
(everything in the above must go into the Search box, in order to identify the site searched) "tallest among all" "tallest amongst all" "tallest of all" "tallest among all"

Now, here is my answer: both are acceptable. Following are a few examples with "among", taken from Google:

The best among us will learn from the mistakes of the past, while the rest of us are doomed to repeat them.
Who is the tallest member among B.A.P members?
Sinbad is the tallest among all the brothers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More new words that may not be recognisable, but sure they are real English words!

The new words that I chose to introduce to you today are all (more or les) related to the family. Don't know why, maybe I've been away from home so much that I feel a kind of nostalgia ... Hmm, no good at all, huh?

 dadpreneur noun a man who creates a business connected with fatherhood
An idea that started with a cut-out creation from an old wetsuit, for his newborn daughter, has turned into an award-winning, international success for Cambridge based ‘dadpreneur’, Paul Brown.

mumblogger noun a mother who blogs about topics of interest to other mothers

A large number of mumbloggers – mothers who write blogs – are meeting in the flesh, at Moorgate in London.

down-ageing noun the practice of pretending that you are younger than you are
Celebrities, of course, are the biggest culprits of down-ageing.
[Grazia (UK celebrity magazine) 30.05.11]

granny tax noun informal a proposed tax on pensioners designed to help to pay for care of the elderly
Pensioners were told yesterday they could be hit with a ‘granny tax’ to fund their long term care.
[Daily Mirror (UK tabloid) 05 July 2011]

babymoon noun a vacation taken by a couple who are expecting their first child
We went to Italy and to Hawaii – we had our honeymoon and our babymoon.

Like them? Well, you can always go look for more on Cambridge Dictionaries Online Blog. The link is here: