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family does or do?

 
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2003 11:07 pm    Post subject: family does or do? Reply with quote

Is the following sentence correct?

I like living in Los Angeles, but my family doesn't.

How do we determine when to use the noun "family" as plural or singular?

Thanks for your help.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2003 10:35 am    Post subject: Re: family does or do? Reply with quote

crliu wrote:
Is the following sentence correct?
I like living in Los Angeles, but my family doesn't.

How do we determine when to use the noun "family" as plural or singular?


The singular form is: family and the plural is: families.

My family went to the park and met my girlfriend's family. Both families had a really good time! We all returned in my family's car.

Oh, and yes your example is correct.

Iain
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2003 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Iain.

How about the following:

My family is loving and supportive.

or

My family are loving and supportive.


Are both sentences correct?

Thanks again.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2003 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The strict grammatically answer is: your first example is correct and the second is incorrect. As I stated earlier "family" is singular and so should be treated as such.

However, some people when speaking do treat "family" as plural because it consists of a number of people.

I've seen the same thing happen with collective nouns like "cabinet" where daily newspapers - in the UK - can't make up their minds whether the word should be treated as singular or plural.

So, in practice (not theory) both your examples are correct. Rolling Eyes

Iain
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2003 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dduck, I have seen that with some collective nouns (or with nouns having irregular plurals, such as media), but never with family. In my dialect, "family are" would always be considered wrong.
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Corey



Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Posts: 445
Location: Costa Rica

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2003 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you can substitute the pronoun "it" for the noun, then you need to use the singular "does" or "doesn't"

Good luck

Corey
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2003 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bud wrote:
Dduck, I have seen that with some collective nouns (or with nouns having irregular plurals, such as media), but never with family. In my dialect, "family are" would always be considered wrong.


Bud, search the net with the following: "family are".

You'll be surprised!

Iain
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2003 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dduck, did you bother to look at the links? And do you think because you see a particular usage on the net that the usage is proven acceptable? Are only proficient speakers of English allowed to put something up on the net?

And anyway, I was only speaking for my dialect. Even so, I would be surprised to learn that there is another dialect that commonly treats "family" as a plural.

Still, I do hesitate to say flatly that it is incorrect when such an English expert as Nikki (see below) uses it. Anyway, the recap of my search is below.

The total number of examples in the first 50 links:

1. All About Sex - My Family Are Naturists; My Family Are Naturists An Essay By Nikki.
2. AfricaOnline.com - Acquitted man insists his family are still alive.
3. (open)Mehmeti Family are Here to Stay

A few samples of the vast majority of links:

1. Which member of the Osbournes Family Are You?
2. ... If you or members of your family are in an accident.
3. WRAL.com - Family - Are UNC Schools Worth The Price Of Tuition?
4. NBC5.com - Family - Are Brain-Building Toys Better Than Classics ...
5. I and my family are extremely heartened by the visions on our television
6. You and Your Family Are What You Eat
7. Several generations of the Piazza family are ...
8. Re:Glad your mom and family are okay
9. George Bush Sr. and bin Laden family are business partners
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2003 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bud wrote:
Dduck, did you bother to look at the links? And do you think because you see a particular usage on the net that the usage is proven acceptable? Are only proficient speakers of English allowed to put something up on the net?

And anyway, I was only speaking for my dialect. Even so, I would be surprised to learn that there is another dialect that commonly treats "family" as a plural.


If it's on the web then it is part of common usage. How common is another debate.

In my opinion, and in general, if you're learning a language you need to be aware of common usage. Especially so, if you're teaching the language!

Iain
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2003 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because a few isolated cases can be found on the web, that makes it common usage and thus correct English? God forbid!
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you are right, of course. But I'd would like to see proper web results for the usage of this sample. I've have seen people produce web results on Usenet but I don't know how to do it myself. More's the pity!

Iain
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2003 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I looked this up to in Practical English Usage. Michael Swan.

503.1

In British English, singular words like family, team, government, which refer to groups of people, can be used with either singular or plural verbs and pronouns.

In American English, singular verbs are normally used ... (though family can have a plural verb). Plural pronouns can be used.

"The team is in Detroit this weekend. They have a good chance of winning."

Iain
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