Is Europe is a singular or plural noun?

Ursula von der Leyen said in an EU speech "long live Europe" instead of "long lives Europe".

A quick search turn up sites like this, which simply says "Singular", which is inconsistent with the usage above, and provides no explanation.

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    This question might be relevant ell.stackexchange.com/questions/154482/…
    – Stuart F
    Jul 22, 2019 at 11:55
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    "Long live Europe" is a wish or a hope about the future. Here, "live" is not the indicative present tense third-person singular, so we know it is something else. "Long lives Europe", or in more conventional word-order "Europe lives long", could be a statement about history up to now.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 22, 2019 at 11:59
  • Possible duplicate of History of "X is dead. Long live X" Jul 22, 2019 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


It's not a matter of singular or plural it's about the mood; "long live [whatever]" expresses a desire for the future, "long lives [whatever]" would be a statement of the present state of affairs, if anyone said it that way. The origin of the phrase "long live Europe" is probably le roi est mort, vive le roi or the king is dead, long live the king, the first king being the dead Charles VI and the second his son who became Charles VII from that moment on but the sentiment is probably much older.

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    The question is off-topic in my opinion (ELL or duplicate) so I have not answered it, but your answer is incorrect. It is not a question of tense, it is a question of mood. Here "live" is present subjunctive — one of the relatively few remaining uses of the subjunctive in English.
    – David
    Jul 22, 2019 at 12:14
  • @David I'd have said it's a furture-invocative statement since the phraseology has a French, not English, origin.
    – Ash
    Jul 22, 2019 at 12:21
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    “God save our gracious queen, Long live our noble queen…” Not English?
    – David
    Jul 22, 2019 at 12:28
  • @David Not originally, it comes from the Norman French phrase le roi est mort, vive le roi; the king is dead, long live the king, first used in 1422, before modern English was being spoken anywhere.
    – Ash
    Jul 22, 2019 at 12:32
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    @Ash It’s much older than 1422, and it doesn’t originate in French. That’s just a very well-known example of the construction. Classical Latin had many examples of viva(n)t X, for example. There is no future involved (I don’t know what exactly you mean by ‘future-invocative’); it is a simple present subjunctive used to stand in for a third-person imperative (as is also the case in both the French and Latin version; this is often called a jussive subjunctive). Jul 22, 2019 at 12:57

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