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couple (is/are) Options
lexx
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 3:57:08 AM
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another day, another questionAnxious

is the world couple plural or singular. I know it means two, but..

ex:


There (was/were) (this/these) couple who wanted their photos taken.


I saw this/these couple.



thank youSick
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:04:56 AM

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A couple is a singular word which has the meaning of plurality (a pair, two of something) in it.

I just met this couple in a café. They were wonderful.



In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
srirr
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:13:12 AM

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Couple is singular. It falls under the category of collective noun. Other examples are pair, crowd, bunch, etc.

As JJ said, when using a pronoun for "couple", you can use "they/their". Otherwise, use "couple" as singular.

There was this couple who wanted their photos taken.
I saw this couple.


We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. ~ Swami Vivekanand
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:23:04 AM

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For some things you have to use the singular: this couple, that couple, every couple

but for other words you can use singular or plural, and plural often sounds slightly more natural

the couple were,

the couple have

but there is nothing wrong with the couple are, the couple has, especially if you are talking about them as one entity.

Sometimes you have to use the plural because a couple cannot be called, he, she or it!

...a couple, I like them

a couple and their children

this couple, they are
lexx
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:36:17 AM
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wow, it's much clearer to me nowWhistle

i love this siteSick

i have more questions to ask. hope you don't get tired answeringPray



thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:44:02 AM

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Before people complain, yes you can use "it" for a couple, especially in impersonal terms

the average couple uses its disposable income...

but there would be nothing wrong with "their disposable income" unless you have the editor from hell!
grammargeek
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 8:42:10 AM

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thar wrote:
For some things you have to use the singular: this couple, that couple, every couple

but for other words you can use singular or plural, and plural often sounds slightly more natural

the couple were,

the couple have


but there is nothing wrong with the couple are, the couple has, especially if you are talking about them as one entity.

Sometimes you have to use the plural because a couple cannot be called, he, she or it!

...a couple, I like them

a couple and their children

this couple, they are


The couple were and the couple have sound extremely unnatural to me.
WOwara
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 8:54:30 AM
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Generally if you refer to the couple you use the singular, you only use the plural when you start referring to or referencing what is within the couple.

Bill.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 8:56:21 AM

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grammargeek wrote:
thar wrote:
For some things you have to use the singular: this couple, that couple, every couple

but for other words you can use singular or plural, and plural often sounds slightly more natural

the couple were,

the couple have


but there is nothing wrong with the couple are, the couple has, especially if you are talking about them as one entity.

Sometimes you have to use the plural because a couple cannot be called, he, she or it!

...a couple, I like them

a couple and their children

this couple, they are


The couple were and the couple have sound extremely unnatural to me.


It might be local voice. To me, it sounds much more natural to say:

The couple were walking down the street when they heard a sound

than The couple was walking down the street when they heard a sound.

I know that is cheating a bit, and presupposed you know how the sentence will end when you start it. I think the point is using "were" leaves the option open to using they at any time in the future.

I think there is also an element of how much you are thinking of them as two people or a single entity. Usually there would be little difference so it will probably come down to local preference.
schrodinger's cat
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 9:16:13 AM

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"Couple" is a collective noun, which means it can be treated as both, singular or plural.

As thar pointed out, it depends on whether you see them as as a unit or two separate entities.

Ex.: The couple is nice. -- You see them as a single unit.
The couple are in a disagreement. -- The stress is on individuals.

Another example of a collective noun:

Ex.: The audience is loud. -- As a group, the noise they're making is sort of blended together.
The audience are on their feet. -- You see a bunch of different people on their feet, as in a camera close-up in a game.

Technically, both uses are correct, it's just a matter of context and apparently, there is also a difference in use between American and British English. Americans favour singular form, while British plural.

Here's a site with a more detailed explanation: collective nouns

In your examples, I'd choose:

There was this couple who wanted their photos taken. -- A photo of both of them as a couple.

I saw this couple. -- Not enough information to really decide, but I'd go for singular. Once again, you saw them as an unit.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. --Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken--
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 10:22:19 AM

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for "this" it is not a choice

I agree the verb can be singular or plural ( and there does seem to be some BE AE thing here

but "this" will always been singular - you can't have "these couple"
Akhil Tiwari
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 10:41:29 AM

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To be grammatically correct, one must treat couple as singular, unless we're talking about the indifferences between them.
The couple was last seen at EP.
Couples were not allowed to enter in CP on V'day.
BUT the couple were of different opinions when asked about their future plans.
Using plural verb with couple would be totally incorrect unless the case demands so.
Hope it helps!

Regards!




I follow Cricket, for I’m Devout. I watch Soccer, for I’m Fervent. I play Tennis, for I am Invincible! - Akhil Tiwari
schrodinger's cat
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 10:46:00 AM

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thar wrote:
for "this" it is not a choice

I agree the verb can be singular or plural ( and there does seem to be some BE AE thing here

but "this" will always been singular - you can't have "these couple"



Uh, right. My bad. Anxious

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. --Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken--
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 10:50:08 AM

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Akhil Tiwari wrote:
To be grammatically correct, one must treat couple as singular, unless we're talking about the indifferences between them.
The couple was last seen at EP.
Couples were not allowed to enter in CP on V'day.
BUT the couple were of different opinions when asked about their future plans.
Using plural verb with couple would be totally incorrect unless the case demands so.
Hope it helps!

Regards!




I would beware of saying categorically that something is totally incorrect, even if a reference says so, especially when a lot of people are using it and agreeing on the thread and saying that is their usage. I would check out the number of well-considered and literate sources use it before saying it is totally incorrect!

If it is an opinion, that is a different matter, especially as there seems to be a BE AE thing here and IE is different again.

But re your usage: According to this, you would say you invited "a couple and its children" to visit, which sounds pretty darned rude!
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:04:37 AM

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We have had a few discussions on collective nouns:
Plural and singular
a variety of +singular or plural Lots of links to grammar sites
Collective Nouns
and vs is With a link to a information regarding BE / AE differences with collective nouns

As far as the word "couple" it may help to remember it can be used to refer to a pair of people, as in a couple who are dating each other, or to a (very) few, but possible more than two, as in "there are a couple of birds hidden in that bush."

In speaking I would tend to say:
The couple is having dinner out tonight.
The couple has gone on vacation.

But, I think I would also tend to say:
The couple are fighting about money.
The couple have filed for divorce.

The latter are less sure and actual usage might well depend upon the rest of the conversation and with whom I am speaking. I think that reflects a general AE tendency to use singular verb forms with collective nouns. BE (correct me if I'm wrong) has a greater tendency than AE to use plural.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:15:13 AM

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I think the consensus must be that for the verb " a couple do xxxxx "it is all about context and local (BE AE) variation.

The very fact that people are using examples needing knowledge about the state of people's marriages to make the distinction, means it is a very subtle distinction, and in many cases both are pretty much equal.

And good point about "a couple of", as you say this would always be plural because it is a plural noun:

a couple of birds were in the tree

to modify, I could say
There is or there are a couple of birds in the tree

but a couple of birds are in the tree, never a couple of birds is in the tree.

weird huh!
Akhil Tiwari
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:28:32 AM

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thar wrote:
Akhil Tiwari wrote:
To be grammatically correct, one must treat couple as singular, unless we're talking about the indifferences between them.
The couple was last seen at EP.
Couples were not allowed to enter in CP on V'day.
BUT the couple were of different opinions when asked about their future plans.
Using plural verb with couple would be totally incorrect unless the case demands so.
Hope it helps!

Regards!




I would beware of saying categorically that something is totally incorrect, even if a reference says so, especially when a lot of people are using it and agreeing on the thread and saying that is their usage. I would check out the number of well-considered and literate sources use it before saying it is totally incorrect!

If it is an opinion, that is a different matter, especially as there seems to be a BE AE thing here and IE is different again.

But re your usage: According to this, you would say you invited "a couple and its children" to visit, which sounds pretty darned rude!

When a pronoun follows, they/their are more common than it/its. Using it/its won't be totally incorrect either, but it's just a matter of choice which one an indiviual wants to prefer in his/her speech. And most would prefer, I presume, 'they/their'.
As I said, 'couple' can be both singular and plural(as the case demands)but they are not always interchangebale, are they? And interchanging them in those particualr situation may make the sentence totally incorrect. That's all I meant to say.

Regards!


I follow Cricket, for I’m Devout. I watch Soccer, for I’m Fervent. I play Tennis, for I am Invincible! - Akhil Tiwari
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 1:53:40 PM

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Akhil Tiwari wrote:
thar wrote:
Akhil Tiwari wrote:
To be grammatically correct, one must treat couple as singular, unless we're talking about the indifferences between them.
The couple was last seen at EP.
Couples were not allowed to enter in CP on V'day.
BUT the couple were of different opinions when asked about their future plans.
Using plural verb with couple would be totally incorrect unless the case demands so.
Hope it helps!

Regards!




I would beware of saying categorically that something is totally incorrect, even if a reference says so, especially when a lot of people are using it and agreeing on the thread and saying that is their usage. I would check out the number of well-considered and literate sources use it before saying it is totally incorrect!

If it is an opinion, that is a different matter, especially as there seems to be a BE AE thing here and IE is different again.

But re your usage: According to this, you would say you invited "a couple and its children" to visit, which sounds pretty darned rude!

When a pronoun follows, they/their are more common than it/its. Using it/its won't be totally incorrect either, but it's just a matter of choice which one an indiviual wants to prefer in his/her speech. And most would prefer, I presume, 'they/their'.
As I said, 'couple' can be both singular and plural(as the case demands)but they are not always interchangebale, are they? And interchanging them in those particualr situation may make the sentence totally incorrect. That's all I meant to say.

Regards!


sorry to requote, I think the point RuthP and others have made is that they are interchangeable and both are totally correct. There may be subtle distinctions and regional preferences, but to call one incorrect is a bit strong, and will confuse the lexx and their ilk.
Akhil Tiwari
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 2:01:58 PM

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thar wrote:


sorry to requote, I think the point RuthP and others have made is that they are interchangeable and both are totally correct. There may be subtle distinctions and regional preferences, but to call one incorrect is a bit strong, and will confuse the lexx and their ilk.


Hey thar,
I didn't mean to offend anyone by saying it 'totally incorrect'.(And I apologise if I did that, though unknowingly.) But, I still think there are certain differences between the two that may not be over-looked.
But I agree with you, all these might be called as regional preferences or, in fact, regional differences.

Regards!

I follow Cricket, for I’m Devout. I watch Soccer, for I’m Fervent. I play Tennis, for I am Invincible! - Akhil Tiwari
hitchman
Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010 1:17:50 PM
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OK, this is all interesting stuff. But which of the following is correct?

The couple was celebrating their anniversary.

The couple were celebrating their anniversary.

Does "their" force it plural? Maybe it should be "the couple was celebrating its anniversary" :)
thar
Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010 1:50:57 PM

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that is the problem we were talking about earlier. To me it sounds entirely inhuman and unfeeling to call a couple, it, so you have to say their anniversary. And if you say their anniversary, it is weird to switch from 'was' to 'their' in the same sentence, so you end up saying 'the couple were'.

as seen, some American English speakers seem much more comfortable with singular, and I as a British English speaker am more comfortable with 'their'.

so my BE says 'were celebrating their'
but I don't know how AE solves this problem. And remember a lot of this is normal usage, and grammar books sometimes do not change to catch up with that, so this may not agree with official grammar rules.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010 2:05:35 PM

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thar wrote:
that is the problem we were talking about earlier. To me it sounds entirely inhuman and unfeeling to call a couple, it, so you have to say their anniversary. And if you say their anniversary, it is weird to switch from 'was' to 'their' in the same sentence, so you end up saying 'the couple were'.

as seen, some American English speakers seem much more comfortable with singular, and I as a British English speaker am more comfortable with 'their'.

so my BE says 'were celebrating their'
but I don't know how AE solves this problem. And remember a lot of this is normal usage, and grammar books sometimes do not change to catch up with that, so this may not agree with official grammar rules.


As a non-native BE follower I would say, still:

The couple was celebrating their anniversary.

... and the couples were celebrating...


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
excaelis
Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010 8:56:06 PM

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grammargeek wrote:
thar wrote:
For some things you have to use the singular: this couple, that couple, every couple

but for other words you can use singular or plural, and plural often sounds slightly more natural

the couple were,

the couple have


but there is nothing wrong with the couple are, the couple has, especially if you are talking about them as one entity.

Sometimes you have to use the plural because a couple cannot be called, he, she or it!

...a couple, I like them

a couple and their children

this couple, they are


The couple were and the couple have sound extremely unnatural to me.


Not to me, but I'm BE. Hi, gg, could you go over and sort out the usage of there thread ? We suck ! Applause Dancing

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