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Which one of these two statements is correct?

60% of staff work or 60% of staff works

marked as duplicate by Avner Shahar-Kashtan, Andrew Leach, choster, Mari-Lou A, Rory Alsop May 23 '14 at 8:05

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  • Hi, Jenny, and welcome to English Language and Usage. It's a good question, and as such, already has several good answers over in this question: Is "staff" plural?, so we'll be closing this one and linking it to the older one. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan May 23 '14 at 6:18
  • Hello Jenny. After a lot of thinking about the problems of concord (agreement) with 'collective nouns' (and everyday ones like group, team, family, staff ... are just as much collective nouns as their more esoteric relatives such as pride, gaggle, skulk, shrewdness, rangale ...) I've chosen 'logical concord' as the more workable option. Not because it sounds cool, not because it's not tricky, and not because I live in Britain, but because it seems to generate fewer nonsenses overall. Mind you, when you also throw in compound quantifiers, it gets messier still. [Oh, I'd use 'work' here!] – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '14 at 9:46
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60% of the staff works is the correct sentence as staff is singular. If you had said 60% of the girls in college are Christian , then we would have used "ARE".

  • I could say '60% of the staff work is the correct sentence as, though 'staff' is singular, synesis dictates agreement with the people (plural) referenced.' But I'd then be implying that your version isn't an accepted alternative. – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '14 at 8:53
  • "Staff" is often used as a plural noun, in British English, and takes a plural verb. However, in American English, it isn't followed by a plural verb. – M.N May 23 '14 at 8:57
  • @M.N. :Could you share an example? – Veronica Diamond May 23 '14 at 9:15
  • @M.N. Imprecise. 'Staff' is a collective noun, usually used in the singular, but the plural 'staffs' (of various companies) does exist. Cf 'pride [of lions]' / 'prides [of lions]'. As a collective noun, 'staff' is usually afforded 'logical concord' in 'British English' (a somewhat loose term). Thus "Our staff is larger than Macrosoft's" / 'The [rest of the] staff are not receiving a bonus'. If 'staff' is a tacit ellipsis of 'staff members' say, plural agreement is used. – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '14 at 9:18
  • Staff is a collective noun. It will be followed with a plural form of verb and if you would like to add a singular form of verb following it then you can say : The staff members are – Veronica Diamond May 23 '14 at 9:23
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The verb is not affected by the percent but rather, and always, by the subject.

60% of the staff always works, and it will still be "works" even if you change 60% into 1%, hence citing the fact that laws of grammar are rarely broken.

  • You're conveniently avoiding the 'logical concord' or 'synesis' 'law'. 'Laws' of grammar often conflict, and are consequently often broken. 'It's us.' 'More than one man was injured.' 'Bacon and eggs is on the menu.' 'The team were fighting amongst themselves.' 'Only one of the cars was blue' but *'50% / half of the cars was blue.' – Edwin Ashworth May 23 '14 at 9:05
  • Grammar is all about beauty. If what you say is beautiful to read, then you sure are a damn good writer. – Calypto May 23 '14 at 9:14

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