May 07, 2007

Call Me Anal Ishmael

So one of my biggest pet peeves online, aside from people using "alot", is what I see as the improper pluralization of nouns. For instance, "Microsoft are releasing information on the Xbox today." or "The Bush Administration are issuing a statement." While I'm not willing to accept it as definitive, this seems to support my gut instinct:

The names of companies and other organizations are usually regarded as singular,
regardless of their ending: "General Motors has announced its fall lineup of new
vehicles." Try to avoid the inconsistency that is almost inevitable when you
think of corporate entities as a group of individuals: "General Motors has
announced their fall lineup of new vehicles." But note that some inconsistency
is acceptable in all but the most formal writing: "Ford has announced its
breakup with Firestone Tires. Their cars will no longer use tires built by
Firestone." Some writers will use a plural verb when a plural construction such
as "Associates" is part of the company's title or when the title consists of a
series of names: "Upton, Vernon, and Gridley are moving to new law offices next
week" or "Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego & Associates have won all their cases
this year." Singular verbs and pronouns would be correct in those sentences,
also.

While it does seem to depend to an extent on context, most of the time it seems to me most of the time companies should be singular nouns. So, anybody with a better source or who was a non-creative writing English major want to sort me out?

4 comments:

Noumena said...

I've noticed that British writers treat collective nouns as plural much more often than American writers. I'm not a grammar realist, so I don't think it matters either way, so long as you're understood.

MosBen said...

Yeah, I'm willing to give the British a pass since they no don't speke good.

Kryssa said...

From what I remember, you're basically dead on. In general, if it's one thing, be it a company or whatever, it gets a singular verb, regardless of the appearance of the name.

But, really, English is just a weird language. Some things are only plural. Like pants.

Because a pant is something else entirely.
~Kryssa

MosBen said...

And noumena, just so I'm clear, I to generally ascribe to the idea that the thing of greatest importance is that you're understood. This is just a pet peeve and I'm also, you know, crazy.