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Deserve for collective nouns Options
cheekyme 🎭
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 2:00:09 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 11/5/2017
Posts: 32
Neurons: 197,235
Our staff deserve ...? (People)

or

Our staff deserves ...? (Everyone)

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
WeaselADAPT
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019 8:28:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/6/2014
Posts: 318
Neurons: 29,755
Location: Kentwood, Michigan, United States
cheekyme 🎭 wrote:
Our staff deserve ...? (People)

or

Our staff deserves ...? (Everyone)


Hi, Cheeky.

First, please allow me to rephrase/reframe your question.

Quote:
Our staff deserve ...? ("Our staff" = Plural, Individuals, They)

or

Our staff deserves ...? ("Our staff" = Singular, Group, It)


Generally speaking, collective nouns like "staff," "family," and "squadron" are considered singular and take a singular verb, so "Our staff deserves..." is most correct. However, I have read before that as long as it sounds OK, you may use whichever verb form you prefer, and even use your word choice to convey the specific message you want to send. That is, in some cases you may want to convey that the individuals deserve; at other times, it may be more fitting for your word choice to convey that the group deserves:

Our staff [the individuals] deserve name badges. <-- meaning they each deserve
Our staff [the group] deserves recognition. <-- the group as a whole deserves

Still, it usually just doesn't sound right to use a collective noun as a plural noun. Even in the example above, the second noun–verb complement sounds better. If you find yourself in this situation but you really need to convey that you're referring to each member, you can use this workaround:

The members of our staff deserve...

the Weasel
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