While reading up on todays match, there was this line:

Thomas Muller wants a penalty before Algeria counter and have a chance but Germany survive. Breathless!1

I would have written this as either before the Algerian counter or before Algeria counters and has.

Is there some grammar rule or even basic knowledge I'm missing, or is this phrasing special to sports reports and possibly known to be off?

  • 1
    Algeria counter in BrE (this is the BBC), Algeria counters in AmE. With some grey area, as always. But you can't mix and match. Germany survive, Algeria counter. It's consistent.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 1, 2014 at 0:15
  • After looking up "collective nouns" this might be the case here. Although I'm unsure if nationalities for a team count as collective nouns. back to reading.
    – npst
    Jul 1, 2014 at 0:40
  • If I understand them, your suggestions wouldn't work. First, changing to the Algerian counter sounds odd following the word "before". And how do you get in the fact that they had a chance? Also in British English we would say "Algeria have a chance" not "...has a chance" so that change would be wrong. Having said that, it might be useful to see what your full sentence would be (and how you manage to say that Algeria had a chance). The original sentence is fine but I would put a comma after "chance".
    – Rupe
    Jul 1, 2014 at 11:10
  • I don't think this is a duplicate, by the way. It does contain the plural/singular question but that's not all. There is also the change from "Algeria counter" to "the Algerian counter" which is actually a bigger change. It changes "counter" from a verb to a noun, changing the nature of phrase into one which doesn't really work.
    – Rupe
    Jul 1, 2014 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


This probably has less to do with soccer than with journalism. News outlets have long used headlinese to abbreviate text to fit into a given space, and sometimes in other contexts as well--because, one suspects, it's thought to sound especially "newsy." This is an item from a Twitter-like live feed rather than a headline, but that's a means of expression that also lends itself to clipped, abbreviated speech. I see several similarly abbreviated messages in that feed, including:

Great noise inside Estadio Beira-Rio now [...]

Awful shot, and he gets a glare from Thomas Muller which leaves him in no doubts...

Time for a change Jogi Low?

  • I thought journalism should be a pillar of writefulness (not a word).
    – npst
    Jul 1, 2014 at 0:10
  • Journalism should be a lot of things that it's not, I'm afraid.
    – phenry
    Jul 1, 2014 at 0:11

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