Agreement question

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Oct 18 20:03:55 UTC 2002

> I also don't think it's a case of notional plurality of
> _press._ Certainly one would never write, "The stories Smith
> tell are shaped..." But one would also never, with other
> collective-ish nouns, write "The stories the team tell are
> shaped..." or "The stories the jury tell are shaped..."
> Even though these could also be regarded as notionally plural,
> _tell_ doesn't work here for me.

Could the reason be that "press" can't take the plural? There aren't
"presses" (in the sense of the profession of journalism, obviously there can
be multiple machines or publishing houses). So there is ambiguity in whether
or not the collective noun takes the singular or plural.

There can, on the other hand, be "teams" or "juries." Since there can be
multiple collectives in these cases, there is a more acute need for
subject-verb agreement.

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