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Is a company always plural, or are small companies singular?

I came across a mocked up newspaper article earlier and there was a discussion about whether the following is grammatically incorrect:

"Black Friday as Sweden destroys us"

To me, this looks wrong. I'd always say:

"Black Friday as Sweden destroy us"

To add context this comment would relate to the Swedish national football team defeating the English team. I presume therefore that Sweden is treated as a plural/collection, but I can't find a definitive answer anywhere.

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marked as duplicate by Mitch, aedia λ, waiwai933 Jun 16 '12 at 22:03

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think that one's pretty subjective. Personally, I think saying "Black Friday as Sweden destroy us" is wrong for the same reasons I think it's odd to say say "us" when talking about a football team...

But on a more serious note, common practise seems to dictate that the use of singular or plural depends on how you're referring to the group. If you're referring to the team as a team, singular appears correct - if you're referring to the team as a group of individuals, plural is better. For example:

  • The British Army is a superior fighting force.
  • The class of '98 are an interesting group.

The main difference here is the implication that the individuals of the "class of '98" are "interesting", while the "British Army" is only a "superior fighting force" when taken as a whole.

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In British English, a Noun like "team" or "Sweden" can have either a singular or plural Verb: "destroy" and "destroys."

In American English, a word like that usually takes a singular Verb: "destroys."

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