Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Collective Noun Verb Forms and Trolling That Big Baby, Liam Gallagher

Yesterday we looked at selecting proper pronouns for collective nouns. Verb use presents a similar judgment call in that when a collective noun is behaving as an aggregate, the singular form of the verb is appropriate. However, when the collective noun is behaving as a group of individuals, the plural form is used. Sometimes it’s a sky full of bees, and sometimes the hive is the organism.

Let’s look at it terms of English rock bands. You might say, “Oasis rocks.” That is a singular usage. It means the band is tight and they rock together as a unit. You might also say “Oasis arrive at the show in separate airplanes.” That is a plural usage, and it is  believable because Liam Gallagher is a little baby. It is grammatical and fine to use, but my ear still doesn’t love it.

Were I expressing what a fussy, whiny baby Liam Gallagher is, I might write, “The members of Oasis arrive in separate planes because Liam Gallagher is a a sniveling crybaby with a binky in his face.” So, your favorite band can be a they or an it, depending on whether or not their singer is a big, douchey baby or not, and the verbs will be modified accordingly.