which is correct: a) she didn't mind a mild storm when the rest of her family were present b) she didn't mind a mild storm when the rest of her family was present

marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, JSBձոգչ, RegDwigнt Oct 10 '13 at 15:23

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    Both can be correct. Why do people keep thinking there is only one possible correct way to say anything? This has been asked a million times, too. – tchrist Oct 10 '13 at 15:00
  • Possible Duplicates: Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular? Which is correct: The rest of the staff is or are? The rest of my family is or are? – Edwin Ashworth Oct 10 '13 at 15:01
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    Tag Question formation is enlightening: Your family is still in Lebanon, isn't it?/aren't they? Most Americans I know would use the plural auxiliary in the tag, even if it doesn't agree with the original singular. – John Lawler Oct 10 '13 at 17:17

Both versions are correct, and have been extensively used.

My perception is when "family are" is used, the focus is on the members that constitute is.The mental vision it evokes is of the father, the mother...

Similarly when "family is" is used, family is taken as a collective noun where the individuals members merely contribute to the numbers of a larger unit.

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