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Subject: Re: Rockbox FAQ for the blind

Re: Rockbox FAQ for the blind

From: Christi Alice Scarborough <christi_at_chiark.greenend.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2004 08:47:31 +0100

Andreas Stemmer wrote:

> Hi Aman,
>
> you wrote
>
> The Rockbox team are justifiably proud...
>
> As a non-native English speaker, I was wondering why this is correct
> English. Shouldn't it be
>
> The Rockbox team is justifiably proud...
>
> because team is singular?

Team is singular, but also refers in this case to a collection of
people. I believe both usages would be accepted in common English,
although those of a pedantic bent may well agree with you.

These people would also probably insist that you should use the word
"fewer" rather than "less" when referring to to a countable number of
things, when in practice few English people make such a distinction.
(Admittedly this is slightly inconsistent in that you would never say
"there is fewer water in the jug", but there's already an inconsistency
in that the opposite of "fewer" and "less" is "more" in both cases.)
Languages can be confusing things sometimes.

In general "is" and "are" are both accepted when there are a countable
number of things in the collective entity (such as developers in the
Rockbox team). Uncountable or indistinguishable collective entities
(such as water, salt or sand) are always singular and usually have an
associated noun to refer to a small quantity of them ("grain of
salt/sand", "drop of water"). So "the salt was on the table" and "the
grains of salt were on the table" are both correct.

Christi
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Received on 2004-06-24

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