In a recent online BBC News item there is a photo of a warning note.

The problem here is that the acronym for Information Technology is also a word. Is there any way to write this without ambiguity without changing the words, or switching to mixed case? Right now it could be interpreted as just bad grammar and that one should wait until the computer itself indicates that it is OK.

Also, I'm wondering, should it be "has" instead of "have"?

enter image description here

  • 2
    Well, sticky notes need no grammar. Their life's mission is to convey an idea, and just die away after that.
    – NVZ
    May 25, 2017 at 15:57
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    A unit such as "the IT team" can be considered a singular unit, or a collection of individuals. Here, it's a group of individuals (any one of whom can give the OK).
    – Andrew Leach
    May 25, 2017 at 16:01
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    By "without changing the words", are you limiting the rewrite to just changes in punctuation? If so, consider "I.T." instead of "IT".
    – Lawrence
    May 25, 2017 at 16:16
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    On has/have, both are arguable, depending on whether you consider the department as a singular entity or a collection of personnel. I prefer has in this case because the department should act as a coherent entity when giving the all clear.
    – Lawrence
    May 25, 2017 at 16:22
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    We have several earlier questions on singular/plural agreement.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 25, 2017 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


It will be clear if you include periods to emphasize the abbreviation:


As far as has versus have, that is a separate question (which most likely has already been asked and answered on this site); but the short answer is: either is correct. From what I've observed, it seems British speakers tend to treat the collective as plural (e.g. the team have won) while American speakers tend to treat the collective as singular (e.g. the team has won).

  • Exactly the kind of solution that I was looking for, thank you!
    – uhoh
    May 25, 2017 at 21:21

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