English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Can personnel be used in reference to a single person? See the example below:

Testing must take place by a qualified personnel other than the requestor.

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by tchrist, coleopterist, Andrew Leach, Cameron, Robusto Dec 7 '12 at 18:13

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As the dictionary states, personnel is a plural noun. So, no. Such questions are deemed to be general reference and I'm marking it to be closed as such. – coleopterist Dec 7 '12 at 16:48
But the sentence would be acceptable without a, even if there was only every going to be one tester. – Colin Fine Dec 7 '12 at 17:21
Thank you, Colin. That was the major question here. I realize it was quite simple. Evidently, simplistic questions are frowned upon here. Research before submitting this question turned up various discussions that had no real resolution. Interesting that although it is defined as a plural noun, it can be a single tester? – aeternus828 Dec 7 '12 at 19:41
(Maybe simple answers are frowned upon here, too.) Would it work to simply say, "Testing must take place by a qualified person?" That would solve the single tester/plural personnel conundrum. If you must keep "personnel," then keep the plural verb even if you are thinking of a single tester, as in, "All personnel test in 30 minute intervals." – rajah9 Dec 9 '12 at 3:17
@aeternus828: Testing doesn't normally "take place by" anybody. The standard phrasing is "Testing must be undertaken by qualified personnel". – FumbleFingers Dec 9 '12 at 5:39

No, as personnel is plural.

Dictionary.com says

  1. a body of persons employed in an organization or place of work.
  2. ( used with a plural verb ) persons: All personnel are being given the day off.
share|improve this answer
Perhaps the downvoter can add a comment explaining what is wrong ? – jwpat7 Dec 7 '12 at 20:22
@jwpat7 wrong with the answer or wrong with the down voter? Could be the later. – Kris Dec 8 '12 at 7:24
@Kris, could be! That would be an interesting explanation. – jwpat7 Dec 8 '12 at 16:16
Thank you, upvoters. – rajah9 Dec 9 '12 at 3:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.