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Is the usage of “are” correct when referring to a team/group/band?
Is “a wide range of features” singular or plural?

From here:

The current crop of golfers were getting ready for the afterlife, one way or the other.

My question:

  • Is this the correct verb agreement?
  • I thought that of golfers was a prepositional phrase, and that crop, which is a singular noun, should dictate the verb agreement.
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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Andrew Leach, Peter Shor , Daniel Nov 21 '12 at 18:16

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For this sentence, both verb forms work fine. My rule, which generally works in constructions like this, is to ask: is the crop getting ready for the afterlife, or are the golfers getting ready for the afterlife. In this case, both make sense (although I'd lean toward the golfers), so you could use either singular or plural. –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:09
    
@FumbleFingers: not a duplicate. This question is asking about constructions such as "the crop of", "a batch of", "a bunch of", "a handful of". That question is asking about constructions such as "the Beatles", "the Police", "Nirvana". These questions even have opposite answers in American English. –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:17
    
@Peter Shor: It looks the same to me. How is this group of musicians grammatically any different to this crop of golfers? –  FumbleFingers Nov 21 '12 at 17:23
    
@FumbleFingers: In American English, you can (and I usually would) say "the crop of golfers were", but you must always say "Nirvana was" or "Congress was". We don't treat named groups the same way as we treat the construction "a bunch/number/group of". So while these may be viewed as grammatically the same in the U.K., they are not in the U.S. –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:25
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@FumbleFingers: Now that is a duplicate. –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:47
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1 Answer

‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’ suggests that where the quantifier is informal, plural agreement is more likely. Informal quantifiers include a batch of, a bunch of and a handful of. A crop of seems to be very like these, pointing to the plural agreement which the example displays. The sentence is, after all, about golfers and not crops.

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What are the formal quantifiers, where the plural agreement wouldn't work? –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:11
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Not even in formal situations would one use singular agreement with constructs like A lot of farmers are early-risers. Just because it has an a in front of it doesn’t “formally” demand singular agreement. It’s like how a third of them are ready still takes plural agrement, so much so that the singular there is ungrammatical. –  tchrist Nov 21 '12 at 17:27
    
@Peter Shor: In the corpus used by the ‘Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English’, formal quantifiers such as a group/set/range/series of were found with both singular and plural agreement. The choice depends in part on which word is considered the head word of the noun phrase. –  Barrie England Nov 21 '12 at 17:28
    
@Barrie: I would say that even for informal quantifiers, the choice depends on which word is considered the head word. But maybe formal quantifiers like group, set, range, series are more likely to be considered the head word. –  Peter Shor Nov 21 '12 at 17:45
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