74 Comments

  1. If the perambulation was facetious, then were you serious when you said “Not at all different”? Do you say “A group of people walks into a room”? If they’re not at all different, then you should use the same verb form for each.

    My point is that if grapes are sentient, a “bunch of [sentient] grapes” maintain their individual identities in the same way as “group of people,” so the plural form is equally appropriate for both. (I’m assuming you use the plural form for “a group of people”; maybe you don’t, but “A group of people walks into a room” sounds pretty weird to me.”)

  2. “(I’m assuming you use the plural form for “a group of people” ”

    group is singular, no matter of what or how many of whatever are in that group

  3. In American English, the verb agrees with “bunch.” In British English, the verb agrees with “grapes.” Which isn’t to say everybody adheres to this in everyday speech, but them’s the rules.

  4. Huh! Do other Americans in this thread say “A group of people walk into a room” or “…walks into a room”? The latter sounds very strange to my ear.

    According to this site whether you use singular or plural for “group” depends on whether you’re thinking of the group as acting as a unit or not (this is why I initially thought the existence of the stem could be relevant, before deciding it wasn’t decisive enough). But I don’t think I would ever think of a group of (human) people walking as a collective unit enough to treat them as singular. (I’m not attempting to prescribe anyone else’s usage of “group,” just trying to think through why I conjugate the verb the way that do.)

  5. Yes, I’m a General North American, and like you use a singular noun with “group” almost regardless of the semantics.

    However, I do like saying “The committee are alarmed at that news!”.

    BTW, someone along the way said they have “Mid-Atlantic” speech, and I took that to mean from the East Coast of the U.S., middle latitude so neither Southern nor Northeast. *However* there is a trend to use that term for bland or compromise of NY and UK speech — as though located notionally halfway across the ocean!

  6. “Yes, I’m a General North American, and like you use a singular noun with “group” almost regardless of the semantics.”

    Are you “like [me]”? I would say “A group of people walk into a room,” meaning that I use the plural form “walk.” It seems like you’re saying you’re saying you would use the singular form?

    Also, I’m not a general. [rim shot]

  7. ” whether you use singular or plural for “group” depends on whether you’re thinking of the group as acting as a unit or not”

    So, a group of people walk into a room, but a group of mind-controlled zombies walks into a room (presumably in lockstep)?

  8. I used Mid Atlantic for the English dialect, because I was taught back when (late 80s) that there are generally three USA dialects, Southern/Western, Mid Atlantic, and New England. I can’t swear to the naming of any but the middle one, since that is my dialect. I also learned that Delaware is unique in that, small as it is, it contains all three groups. I also know that the British have the term Mid Atlantic to mean something between American and British. And I was aware of this as I used the term in my post, but didn’t feel like doing the research to see what the current terms are, and was hoping no one would call me on it or be confused by it.

    Oh well 😉

  9. Shrug: This is an example I found of treating “group” as singular:

    “A small group of conservatives has decided to introduce a bill to cut taxes.”

    So I guess they’re implying that conservatives are mind-controlled lockstep zombies?

  10. also:
    > https://data.grammarbook.com/blog/numbers/the-number-vs-a-number/
    that is wrong.

    The number of people we need to hire is thirteen. A number of people we need to hire is six. Another number of people we need to hire is seven.

    The distinction they’ve mischaracterized is whether you’re talking about a number, which is singular, or a group of something, which is then plural. They have gotten the wrong idea because the group construct is an idiom and it only accepts “a”.

  11. @ Andréa – As Bill mentioned above, the choice of a singular or plural verb for group terms varies between American and British usage. I occasionally run into this in sport results, in which British reporters will say things like “Manchester play against Arsenal“, instead of the usual American expression “Washington plays against New York“.

  12. I’m very cognizant of that difference; in fact, I just read something this a.m. that was British and used the singular noun with the plural verb.

  13. Reading an old book of “Mutts” comics last night with my son, he tripped over the word “schedule”, so after I told him that it was pronounced “skedjule”, I warned him that when he runs into it in English class, his teacher will probably say that it’s “shed-yool”.

  14. Here’s a passage using “peak” for “past the peak, into decline” . As I was asking about somewhere around here 🙂

    From The Atlantic newsletter. The point of the article was about “impossible burger” appearing on menus.

    “Peak meat” won’t happen because tens of millions of carnivores suddenly got religion on animal rights, but rather because they were motivated by the opposite of a collective sacrifice: the magic of a longer menu.

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