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Suppose I want to put a description below a picture of a sports team or prepare t-shirts and other promotional gadgets with the name of the team.

Sometimes the team is well-known (Manchester United) or the name obviously indicates a sports team (Oakland Athletics).

But when the name is generic (Squirrels, Penguins, What-evers), has no city name in it and is not widely known, in order to avoid ambiguity it would probably be better to add the word “Team” to the title. Should “Team” go before or after the name, i.e. is it “Team X” or “X Team”? On TV we had “A-Team” but I’m not sure one can safely apply rules from TV series to real life.

EDIT: In my original examples the generic term was always plural but actually I’m also interested in the case of a singular name which could be a proper name at the same time (e.g. “Mars”, “Washington”, etc.).

  • I find all the answers avoid talking about the language rule. They are all suggesting workarounds. The asker still doesn't know how to do when "team" is a must-have. – Gqqnbig Jun 23 '16 at 6:35
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I would not add "Team" either before or after the noun: Team Squirrel or Squirrel team. Taking a cue from sports, I would add "The" in front of the name. You've done that already by saying "squirrels," "penguins" or "whatevers." "The Squirrels"

By adding "The" it is no longer generic. The Giants, The A's, The Red Sox. None of them are called "Team Giants" or "Giant Team."

We don't pluralize header nouns, so if you do decide on [name] team, don't write Squirrels Team, write Squirrel Team.

That said, I would use "The" in front of the name. "The Squirrels eked out a 1 point victory over the Whatevers in today's JV basketball game."

This website shows team names on T shirts http://www.customink.com/team/team-names. If you didn't want to put "The Squirrels" on a T shirt, you could put "Squirrels Soccer / Soccer Team"

  • What about a name which is singular, e.g. “Mars”? In this case adding “the” before the name would not work, would it? I updated the question accordingly. – Michał Kosmulski Sep 28 '15 at 9:59
  • @MichałKosmulski Mars would be "Martians" and Washington would be the "Washingtonians." If the team were Chinese, it would be "The Chinese". There is no standard rule for pluralizing names...just generalities. Are you trying to name a team, or just curious? – michael_timofeev Sep 28 '15 at 10:28
  • It depends on the team - the best person to ask would be a fan of that team. Tottenham Hotspur, for instance, is widely known as 'Spurs', The Spurs', and 'Tottenham'; but never (in my experience) 'The Hotspur'. Sheffield Wednesday is known as 'Wednesday', but never 'The Wednesdays'. – JHCL Sep 28 '15 at 11:16
  • Another example: 'Arsenal' is a singular name, you'd never hear 'The Arsenals' but you do hear 'The Arsenal' (mainly for comic effect: "Up the Arsenal!") Anyone using the term 'Team Arsenal' would be a laughing stock. – JHCL Sep 28 '15 at 11:27
  • @JHCL What are you getting at? – michael_timofeev Sep 28 '15 at 11:29
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(comment re-written as an answer, as suggested,)

You should do a little homework and find out what names and nicknames are actually used by those connected with each team. I generally agree with the answer given by @michael_timofeev, but there aren't really any rules, and it would be easy to invite ridicule (or worse, prevent any sales) by getting it slightly wrong. You should definitely not put 'Team' before or after a name, unless you're sure it would be understood and accepted by the potential customers (ie fans).

Also, I'd say you shouldn't worry about ambiguity except when it might be confused with another team, in which case colours (and possibly typeface) will help. In some cases, the town or city name alone is perfectly clear as a reference to a particular team.

If I saw a t-shirt with 'Mars' on it, and was aware of a team with that name, I'd assume that this was the reference rather than the planet, the God, or the confectionery company - unless the logo design told me otherwise. I wouldn't think that 'Squirrels' on a bumper sticker was displaying solidarity with the small mammals, even without knowing the team.

I'm unfamiliar with basketball; if I wanted to sell merchandise to fans of Utah Jazz I'd take the trouble to find out if they prefer 'The Jazz', 'Jazz' or possibly 'Jazzes' et al.

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