Would "Human Resources are excited or is excited" be correct?

  • Probably depends on American vs. British English. In British English, "Human Resources are" is likely fine since there are presumably many people working in the department. In American English, "Human Resources is" would likely be the only choice for native speakers. – Patrick87 Sep 30 '14 at 16:05
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    Make that “Many British Anglophones treat collective nouns (corporations, departments, etc.) as plural (ie needing plural concord) when the individual members of the collection are being referenced metonymically/synecdochally..." and I'll agree wholeheartedly. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '14 at 16:18
  • Both are incorrect, because HR never gets excited. – Drew Sep 30 '14 at 23:20

In the example given, Human Resources is shorthand for the Human Resources Department. It is logically singular. As such, the verb should be is.

There are some cases when a plural might be called for

In many modern companies, human resources are their most valuable assets.

Note that, in this latter example, there is no capitalization, since the phrase is not the name of anything, but a generic descriptor.

SUPPLEMENT: The above explanation reflects US usage. Other English speaking countries may differ.

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    I don't see how you can claim Human Resources is short for Human Resources Department rather than The staff of the Human Resources Department. Either is possible; more common in Australia would be 'Australia' [short for 'the Australian team'] 'is winning 3 - 0.' More common in the UK would be 'Australia' [short for 'the members of the Australian team'] 'are winning 3 - 0.' The latter usage is what is termed 'logical accord' or 'notional accord' (or 'synesis'). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '14 at 16:11
  • @EdwinAshworth As noted in a few comments, this may be regional. In US, singular would be more likely. If the term staff were inserted, either would work. – bib Sep 30 '14 at 16:19
  • So why the parochial answer? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '14 at 16:20
  • @EdwinAshworth My answer is parochial because my knowledge is similarly constrained. Edited to acknowledge that. – bib Sep 30 '14 at 16:23
  • Apparently, staff at Campbell University, NC also prefer logical agreement to superficial agreement: '... Human Resources have been working with co-workers in developing health care programs for employees....' The terms 'British English' and 'American English' are misleading. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '14 at 16:34

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