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"Company is" vs "Company are" or: Brian and Dan talk funny


Starhawk
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So, I noticed that some people on the forum consistently use a plural verb when referring to a company name, say Amazon.

 

Most people would say "Amazon has" while they say "Amazon have".

 

Then I noticed it's always Brian and Dan who write this way. I assumed it was the European English way, but I never hear anyone speak like this, just in writing (maybe I never noticed).

 

I looked this up and it is a British style, but it seems the answer isnt so clear cut with regard to your use of plural verbs and company names. It's more due to the particular situation you are writing about at the time. The article sites:

 

A number of people have hinted that British English differs from American English in the use of group nouns. Here's a British answer.

 

If you treat 'government' as singular, it means you're considering the actions of the government as a whole. So 'the government is killing the people' means that the government is, for example, ordering the army to kill people, or withholding food so that people starve to death.

 

If you treat 'government' as plural, it means you're considering the individual members of the government. So 'the government are killing the people' means that the members of parliament are going out at night with knives and guns and murdering people one by one. This probably isn't what you mean.

 

A number of other nouns, such as 'team' and 'committee', behave in the same way as 'government'.

 

Is the plural verb the default use? It seems most cases when talking about Amazon this or Nintendo that, it would make more sense using the singular verb, but I see the plural used a great deal.

 

Just curious. I've probably noticed this for months and never bothered to ask anyone.

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No wonder we had to subtitle you terminator.gif

 

Yeah the it's and its is an easy mistake. Most people are used to the ' showing possession but in this case it's=it is. Is that how most everyone else refers to it?

 

It's possession vs contraction. "it's" is really "it has", whereas "its" has no contraction, just possession, so no need for an apostrophe.

 

I'm far from being the best at grammar, but some things just bug me :)

 

And the less said about subtitles, the better. I watched some Rab C.Nesbitt with my wife over the weekend & it was impenetrable for her.

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:) I do it without any conscious thought, I hadn't noticed it being a British vs American English thing.

 

Now, if we want to discuss grammar, let's talk about its vs it's... :)

 

There are many linguists, among them is Kate Burridge whom I admire great deal, who argue we should dump possessive apostrophes altogether. Of course it's/its violates the possesive rule anyway, which just exposes the arbitrariness of the whole thing.

 

Aside from that momentary short-circuit when you realize the wrong one was used, does losing the apostrophe in its or lets really mean you have any problem comprehending the sentence?

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There are many linguists, among them is Kate Burridge whom I admire great deal, who argue we should dump apostrophes altogether. Of course it's/its violates the possesive rule anyway, which just shows the arbitrariness of the whole thing.

 

Aside from that momentary short-circuit when you realize the wrong one was used, does losing the apostrophe in its or lets really mean you have any problem comprehending the sentence?

 

I just look at them as different words, each important in its own way. As a writer, I would hate to lose the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of language. It separates the amateurs from the pros.

 

And it makes for interesting conversation.

 

Bcz, in d end, we rlly dnt nd all tht mch, bt itz prtty ugy whn u brk it dwn.

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I just look at them as different words, each important in its own way. As a writer, I would hate to lose the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of language. It separates the amateurs from the pros.

 

And it makes for interesting conversation.

 

Bcz, in d end, we rlly dnt nd all tht mch, bt itz prtty ugy whn u brk it dwn.

 

Heh, this post looks very familiar as we had a lengthy discussion about this last year (I think).

 

I don't think these things are that sacred, when you look back into the past and see how the decisions regarding spelling were made (and revised, again and again), the clear story is that ego, stubbornness, and guesswork were as much a part as clarity and precision. Tthe spellings we have were invented by people happy to 'lose' the idiosyncrasies that they had come to know, or rather add their own.

 

And if idiosyncrasy and conversation-points are important, then why not add to the layers of both by opting to change these inconsistencies?

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There are many linguists, among them is Kate Burridge whom I admire great deal, who argue we should dump possessive apostrophes altogether.

 

Hacky sci-fi and fantasy writers will strike before they allow this to happen. How will they make up proper names without access to the apostrophe?

 

Thus, "Brian" becomes "b'Rian," the wily alien clonebrother of Shwanz Prime. After heroically serving in the Third Gene War (detailed the novel Genesaga 2: Space Punch), b'Rian must solve the dark mystery of the Crystal Mcgu'ffin artifacts and save humanity once again.

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Or let's talk about not turning "there are" into "there's" ;)

 

Is that any worse than turning "going to" into "gonna"? That's not a rhetorical question, I'm curious where people stand on these changes. I think the only ones people care about are the ones that happen during their lifetime (assuming that they reflect changes and not just passing fads). Once a change gets enough traction that kids grow up hearing it (and saying it), it just becomes the new standard and no one cares.

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Is that any worse than turning "going to" into "gonna"? That's not a rhetorical question, I'm curious where people stand on these changes. I think the only ones people care about are the ones that happen during their lifetime (assuming that they reflect changes and not just passing fads). Once a change gets enough traction that kids grow up hearing it (and saying it), it just becomes the new standard and no one cares.

 

Probably not any worse to some people :) There are plenty of things I don't care about that drive my dad nuts :D

 

This reminds me of how I was never really taught grammar in school. Every year whatever English teacher I had seemed to assume that we had all learned all that boring grammar stuff before. And grammar checkers on computers helped cover up the fact that we hadn't :) So we wrote nice little essays on many of Shakespeare's plays, but nobody ever explained "its" and "it's" to us, etc...

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Oh, another error I see very frequently in writing is confusion of then/than. Although it seems to me that far more often 'then' is replacing 'than'

 

As in "there are more then 30 days in December"

 

I suspect "than" may be going the way of the dodo.

 

One of the most difficult is "which is" vs. "that is". I know the difference but still flub it regularly.

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I think the larger apostrophe issue is when people think they need them to pluralize something. DVD's and computer's are not plurals. :)

 

I read a great rant on this issue once that included something along the lines of: An apostrophe does not mean "Look out! Here comes an S!"

 

:lol

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Re: the original argument in the title, I usually use "company X are" as well, so it may well be a British thing. Possibly, it's actually a British thing to think of a company as the collection of people who work there, rather than a single monolithic entity. If so, I much prefer our way, because that's a useful mindset to have when dealing with them.

 

But it seems to extend to other organisations of people as well; "U2 is doing something" versus "U2 ARE doing something", for instance.

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Doesn't it make more sense to treat a company as a single entity, since, in a legal sense, it is?

 

Also, when it's a name, it seems, to me, to make more sense grammatically to treat it as a singular...

 

I guess it's the distinction between a company name representing people (plural), or a collection of people (singular)...

 

I can see an argument for either side, but the singular makes more sense to me.

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