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kirstin_mccormack
01-31-2007, 11:54 AM
Writing today, I was stumped by the following:

The staff were warned not to talk to the media.

OR

The staff was warned not to talk to the media.

Which is correct?

Peggy
01-31-2007, 12:10 PM
"The staff was" looks more correct to me.

I've read that British English tends to use the plural verb with collective nouns, while American English uses the singular. Hopefully, someone who actually knows the rule will respond.

As an alternative you could write "The staff members were warned", which sidesteps the issue altogether.

kborsden
01-31-2007, 01:53 PM
'Were' can be used inatead of 'was' in certain English dialect, which is gooed for dialog but not for narrative. I thnk as a whole though, in this case, 'was' is the correct form.

Sandi LeFaucheur
01-31-2007, 04:30 PM
If the staff are being treated as a single entity, then you would use the single verb. If they are treated as individuals--perhaps being told one by one, or some being told and others not--then you would use the plural. I would go for the singular.

pink lily
01-31-2007, 06:41 PM
I'd say "the staff was warned," but I suppose it could go either way.

Maryn
02-01-2007, 01:23 AM
I'd go for the active verb tense instead of the passive. Who warned 'em?

Maryn, side-stepping messes

kirstin_mccormack
02-01-2007, 04:29 AM
Well, I AM awfully fond of sidestepping messes myself... :)

Del
02-01-2007, 05:05 AM
The members of the staff were warned not to talk to the media.

OR

The staff was warned not to talk to the media.

It depends on the subject. Members is plural so you would use were. Staff is singular so you would use was.

"The staff were" was used because while the writer wrote he thought of the members but neglected to mention them in the text. Or so I would bet.

Adagio
02-01-2007, 06:34 AM
Crowd (let's say, in a club, dancing). According to the dictionary = A large number of things or people considered together. Should we use "they?"

Thanks,
Adagio

Judg
02-01-2007, 06:34 AM
What Peggy said. Personally, I grit my teeth every time I see something like, "My family were there." Yuck.

Sandi LeFaucheur
02-01-2007, 07:26 AM
Crowd (let's say, in a club, dancing). According to the dictionary = A large number of things or people considered together. Should we use "they?"

Thanks,
Adagio

It's the same as staff. A crowd is a single thing. Same as nation, class, school, flock ... Therefore, you use the single verb.

virtue_summer
02-01-2007, 08:18 AM
I'd use was, especially since you're using "the." "The Staff" is singular.

ErylRavenwell
02-01-2007, 10:59 AM
Was, obviously. Staff is a singular noun, plural staffs. People for example is always plural when not pertaining to a nation.

Adagio
02-01-2007, 03:59 PM
Thank you all. It makes sense.

I :heart: AW Cooler.

Adagio