I would like to know if this sentence is grammatical, with its usage of the relative pronoun who.

(I) Our team is a happy bunch who works night and day.

I am getting two parses for this sentence:

(II) Our team is [a happy bunch who works night and day].

(III) Our team [is a happy bunch] who works night and day.

(for sentence (III), the relative clause who works night and day is modifying our team).

I am not sure if the usage of who is correct in either parse or the original sentence. For what it is worth, the sentence was written by a non-native speaker. Please advise.

Note this issue does not appear to be trivial. See this discussion as well: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2935603.

  • 1
    You can also recast the sentence by making it a compound sentence; e.g., "Our team is a happy bunch, and we work night and day." Just a suggestion. There's nothing wrong with Kevin's answer, below, as far as I'm concerned. Don Dec 3, 2014 at 20:11
  • Frankly, I would use "Our team is a happy one that works night and day"
    – Oldcat
    Dec 4, 2014 at 22:16
  • possible duplicate of Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular?
    – tchrist
    Jan 3, 2015 at 1:24

2 Answers 2


"Who" sounds wrong to my native ear. I would prefer "which" or "that," since a team is an inanimate object (composed of people, true, but still not a person itself). In my own writing, I often overuse "that," so I would probably write "which," giving us this sentence:

Our team is a happy bunch which works night and day.

(Some prescriptivists may tell you not to use "which" here because we're using a restrictive clause rather than a nonrestrictive clause, but Merriam-Webster says "which" is fine here.)

A British speaker might prefer to treat the team as plural:

Our team is a happy bunch which work night and day.

I am uncertain if the British usage still prefers "which"; the plural here is unfamiliar to me and I cannot intuit whether to switch back to "who." Multiple people in the comments have indicated that switching is correct, because we're now talking about multiple people. So for BrE, you end up with this:

Our team is a happy bunch who work night and day.

  • 1
    As a BrE speaker I'd go for the first or last of these: team = inanimate singular, or (members of the) team = animate plural.
    – DavidR
    Dec 3, 2014 at 21:37
  • 1
    @Kevin which does sound better than who, though I think my AmE ears might like that even more. Dec 4, 2014 at 4:40
  • 'Our team are a happy bunch who work night and day' is idiomatic in the UK. May 12, 2017 at 21:03

Plurality is assumed even though its a a "bunch", since the bunch is disparate. Thus I'd say:

Our team is a happy bunch who work night and day

Unless the work is directed at a single cause in which the team is really (one) cohesive unit.

In this case say you might say:

Our team is working night and day on [the issue]

  • there is an assumption of plurality even though team and bunch are singular
    – kns98
    Jan 2, 2015 at 20:56

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