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Our staff has/ have worked hard. Options
Koh Elaine
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:32:26 PM
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Joined: 7/4/2012
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Our staff has/ have worked hard.

Which verb should I use?

Thanks.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:37:12 PM

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In this instance, although context is limited, it feels like they are people, not a single unit.
The plural feels more natural in this case.

(But I seem to remember there being a difference in style between AE and BE here).


This is about the spirit, not the letter, of the grammar rules. Staff are people, first and foremost.
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:59:11 PM

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Staff is a group of people -- a unit, singular.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:39:50 PM

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Yep, there it is.

Pick a side...Whistle

Gabriel82
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 5:53:59 PM

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Koh Elaine wrote:
Our staff has/ have worked hard.

Which verb should I use?

Thanks.


"Staff" is a collective noun, like "town" is collective noun that represents many people (in theory) but is considered grammatically singular. Therefore, "our staff HAS worked hard" is correct.

Even the quiz over "collective nouns" here at Farlex states that collective nouns are usually considered singular, although it leaves a brief note for British usage.
srirr
Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:15:37 AM

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It depends on the context. Collective nouns like staff (or family, team etc.) can take singular or plural verb depending on the sense in which they are taken.

The school staff were called by the police for interrogation.
The staff welcomes the minister on the occasion.

We had discussed this topic earlier a few times on this forum and I recall there was an opinion that AE tends to use singular verb more while BE may use both, depending on the context.




We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. ~ Swami Vivekanand
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 3:53:39 AM

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Yes - the communal view that "A group is all one thing and we are all one" gives you a singular verb.

The individual view that "a group is made up of free individual people" gives a plural.

One can take either view, depending on the circumstances.

Using srirr's examples, it was the whole group who together issued the welcome (or, more likely, it was one person acting for the whole group). This calls for a singular.
However, each individual person on the school staff was interrogated separately. Therefore it takes a plural.

Personally, I would use a plural in the original question - each person on staff has worked hard, so the staff have worked hard.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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