You’ve got to conjugate to accumulate, possibly

At the risk of sounding like John Humphrys (and that’s not a risk I ever want to take), I’m a bit perturbed by a new grammatical trend. It’s for conjugating nouns that refer to a number of people or things, but are never the less singular, with plural verbs.

Here’s an example on my son’s school newsletter. ‘The whole of year 3 have delighted audiences with their show.’ Shouldn’t that be ‘has delighted audiences’? Year 3 being a singular thing?

On the radio, you are forever hearing that the labour party want one thing and the army need something else, when they should be wants-ing and needs-ing, really. Shouldn’t they?

But what hope do we have when even David Attenborough is up to it. When referring to lemurs on Madagascar, he says: ‘the whole troop head off’. I think they head off to eat some mud, but let’s put that to one side. Lemurs can eat mud if they want to, that’s their choice. The point is, the whole troop heads off, doesn’t it, being a singular thing?

By the way, while we’re on the subject of Madagascar, has anyone else noticed that eventhough Attenborough’s voiceover goes on about the massive diversity of wildlife on the island, I feel like I’m watching an awful lot of lemurs and chameleons, and very little else. Nice waterfalls, though.

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