What is correct?

Australia constantly improves its roads.

Australia constantly improve their roads.

Australia constantly improves their roads.

Thank you!

  • Singular - Australia constantly improves its roads - unless you are talking about an Australian sports team, when you would say Australia are losing to England in the cricket/rugby etc. – WS2 Jan 25 '15 at 18:30
  • Whose roads would Australia improve besides Australian roads? Australia constantly improves the roads. And, what about it's? – John Lawler Jan 25 '15 at 18:31
  • @JohnLawler I thought it's was it is, and the possessive was its. Do you not have that convention in America? – WS2 Jan 25 '15 at 18:33
  • Yeah, we do. But the question asks about it's. – John Lawler Jan 25 '15 at 18:34
  • Okay, thank you very much! I just misstyped its, sorry. – Post Self Jan 25 '15 at 18:35

In British usage, a collective such as a company, or a team may be construed with singular or plural: there is a slight difference of meaning, with the focus on the collective or the individuals. This is not normally extended to countries, but I don't see why it shouldn't be.

American authorities insist on a singular.

I don't know what is the situation in Australian English, but I would hazard a guess that it follows British usage.

"Correct" has no meaning unless you specify which authorities you choose to follow.

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  • Australia was just an example. English is not my mother language (I live in Austria), so it's pretty irrelevant what type of english it is. – Post Self Jan 31 '15 at 13:30

The correct sentence is: Australia constantly improves its roads.

Australia is singular in this sentence because here, the group of unspecified people that make up Australia are acting as one.

If you were to discuss conflict within, say, a team of Australians, you would want to say "The Australian team are fighting" because although they comprise a single unit, they are acting as individuals.

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  • 1
    That's if you subscribe to notional = logical agreement. I also do, but those who don't can't be labelled wrong This has been discussed here many times. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 25 '15 at 19:08

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