Is the usage of “are” correct when referring to a team/group/band?

What is correct to say?

Korn* is a great band


Korn* are a great band.

(* You can replace your favourite band's name here)

Of course everybody there is no doubt about the following sentences:

The Beatles are a great band

Led Zeppelin is a great band

But with certain kinds of names, the situation becomes difficult.

Metallica are a great band


Metallica is a great band

Is there any consensus on this matter?


I think that in British English, The Korn are a great band is correct, while in American English, The Korn is a great band.

Again, I'm not sure, but Korn being made of a number of people, the plural might work.


As far as I can tell, band names are typically treated as a plural if the name of the band starts with "the" and is a plural noun or based around a plural noun -- or more generally, if it seems to be referring to its members as a collection of entities -- and a singular otherwise. So we would have:

  • The Beatles are a great band.
  • Korn is a great band.
  • The Rolling Stones are a great band.
  • Metallica is a great band.
  • Led Zeppelin is a great band.
  • Nine Inch Nails is a great band. (note that the plural noun does not control here)
  • 5
    This is correct, but only for American English. British English would use are for all of these.
    – nohat
    Feb 3 '11 at 0:21
  • 1
    It becomes even more complicated in cases where the name of the band can refer to both a single person or a group of people depending on context. Officially, Trent Reznor is the only member of Nine Inch Nails, but if he's doing a live show there's other people on stage with him. If the conjugation is plural because a band has multiple members, then it should be singular when a band has only one member. For my money, what @chaos suggests sounds best to the ear.
    – dirtside
    Mar 2 '16 at 3:15
  • Why would "Nine Inch Nails" become plural by that rule?
    – skyking
    Feb 10 '20 at 11:29
  • @skyking: it doesn't?
    – chaos
    Feb 10 '20 at 18:32
  • I meant why "Nine Inch Nails" would become singular by that rule?
    – skyking
    Feb 10 '20 at 22:18

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