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I am writing a report whereby I have to state something about the team. My colleague and I are of different opinions. Can you tell me which is the correct one?

Even though good reasons were given, the audit team were not quite satisfied with the outcome.

Even though good reasons were given, the audit team was not quite satisfied with the outcome.

I personally think the correct sentence is the first one where the word 'were' is used.

Therefore if anyone can advise I would be grateful.

Kind regards,

Miles

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  • Welcome to Writing.SE! These sorts of questions are better suited to our sister site, English.SE, so I'm going to migrate the question there. I'm actually quite curious myself as to what the answer is, as this is a dilemma I've had myself in the past, so I hope you find the answer there! – F1Krazy Oct 15 '20 at 8:28
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    "Team" is considered a collective noun (like "committee"), so generally the plural override is optional, at least in BrE. Singular agreement can seem pedantic, though, in an example like "?A whole team of experts was called in." However, in AmE singular agreement is the norm, I believe. – BillJ Oct 15 '20 at 8:53
  • Similar questions have been closed as a duplicate of the following one, although I feel that that one is about a specific problem that is a bit different: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1338/… – Carsten S Oct 15 '20 at 9:18
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In this context, team is a countable collective noun. It may be seen as singular or plural.

team = "a number of people who act together as a group, either in a sport or in order to achieve something"

Cambridge dictionary

Singular use: "A football team comprises eleven footballers"; "A forensic team of three specialists was at the crime scene"; "The teams gathered for the Olympics"; "One team was on the train".

Google ngram shows "team is" to occur consistently about ten times more than "team are" over the last two centuries. The same goes for committee, another collective noun.

From this viewpoint, in your examples I favour team as a singular collective noun representing the actions and beliefs of the whole group of auditors": "the audit team was not quite satisfied".

Plural use: in a different construction such as "The audit team were dressed in trousers and skirts", the focus is clearly (auditors not being known for controversial dress combinations!) on the members of the team rather than the whole team, so "were" is appropriate.

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    Yes, countable and collective, but importantly singular. Plural override is possible, though not in AmE. In BrE, plural override can sound unacceptably pedantic where the construction simply provides a quantification, as in %"a whole team of experts was called in". – BillJ Oct 15 '20 at 10:21

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