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Are or Is?

(33 Posts)
HarrietSchulenberg Tue 04-Nov-14 18:09:59

"The National Lottery ARE giving away money...", or "The National Lottery IS giving away money..."?
From this morning's English GCSE Foundation resit paper.

Goldenlab Tue 04-Nov-14 18:14:33


GertrudeBell Tue 04-Nov-14 18:15:40



iklboo Tue 04-Nov-14 18:17:46


The National Lottery is the 'entity' in the sentence. Replace it with your name, for example, to check which sounds correct.

The above rule isn't always right, but mostly.

JugglingChaotically Tue 04-Nov-14 18:19:38

The national lottery - singular - is

LineRunner Tue 04-Nov-14 18:20:20


But like every other thread on P Corner lately, loads of people will come on and say that the wrong answer is the right one so tbh what's the point <takes up inconsequential hobby instead>

Hitabottomus Tue 04-Nov-14 18:21:45

Another vote for "is".

RibbonJar Tue 04-Nov-14 18:24:41

I always have to think twice about this one. It should be 'is' because a company is singular but it doesn't sound right to me.

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 04-Nov-14 18:42:02

Thank you. I've spent all day grinding my teeth over this. GCSE paper used "are", which dented my confidence in the exam body. Was wondering if I'd blinked an missed a change in the English language.

BathshebaDarkstone Tue 04-Nov-14 18:53:37

Is smile

SingSongSlummy Tue 04-Nov-14 18:56:27

The exam body is just incorrect! How irritating. This kind of error drives me mad.

Goldenlab Tue 04-Nov-14 18:58:30

How annoying that that exam body used 'are'. Enough to make one's blood boil.

Viviennemary Tue 04-Nov-14 19:00:30

I'd say is. But could both be acceptable.

iklboo Tue 04-Nov-14 19:04:51

Its own website says 'is'.

DadDadDad Wed 05-Nov-14 10:09:07

LineRunner - you only need to pay attention to those that give some reasoning behind their answer. Some posters have given justification for "is" above. It's a singular noun so it take the singular form of "to be" which is "is".

The problem is that we don't always do this with singular nouns. (I think Brit and American English differ on this). I think it's fairly standard to say:
The government are introducing new measures...
Chelsea [Football Club] are through to the final.
My team are working on this project.
Rolls Royce are announcing job cuts.
You could use "is" with these singular nouns, but "are" sounds natural.

Going back to the OP example, National Lottery is here shorthand for the organisation (rather than the game itself), so it could function in the same way as Rolls Royce in my example.

atticusclaw Wed 05-Nov-14 10:11:56

"Is" is correct but it's common usage to say "are".

LineRunner Wed 05-Nov-14 10:54:15

It's common usage to say 'should of'. I wonder if that will become correct one day.

atticusclaw Wed 05-Nov-14 11:04:53

I wasn't saying they we should all switch to saying "are". I correct it every time I see it.

sinkestatecar Wed 05-Nov-14 11:10:51

Bloody hope not LineRunner

DadDadDad Wed 05-Nov-14 11:13:23

LineRunner - but can you find a single example of a professional writer, eg on news media or in a novel, using "should of". There are usage sources that do provide a reliable guide.

I'm not an expert so I just see what's out there. I tried searching Google with the string "The National Lottery are" then replacing "are" with "is". The picture's mixed.

From the ITV website:
The National Lottery are holding an event in Telford today in the hope...
The National Lottery is looking for the eight remaining winners of...

From the Lottery Good Causes website:
With Andy Murray returning to Centre Court..., Roy's boys up against..., [other sporting examples]..., the National Lottery are behind them all the way.
Although the next sentence starts "The National Lottery has..." rather than "have"!
The National Lottery is today calling on people across the UK to vote for...

The Guardian's style guide says:
Nouns such as committee, family, government, jury, squad and team take a singular verb or pronoun when thought of as a single unit, but a plural verb or pronoun when thought of as a collection of individuals.

The BBC's style guide implies singular for organisations.

A lot of the "National Lottery is" examples are about the activity not the organisation, eg "The National Lottery is a great money-spinner". We're only interested in cases where it's the organisation: "The National Lottery is doing X" etc.

atticusclaw - you tell us that plural is not correct, but it would help if we knew what reasoning or evidence you are basing that on.

QueenTilly Thu 06-Nov-14 15:57:56

Very few people (including me, sadly sad) seem to be consistent with their singular/plural nouns these days. I've decided that each time, it reflects how the speaker sees the organisation being discussed. For example, with the National Lottery I see it as one great big Thing that happens every Saturday and Wednesday. So I will always say "the National Lottery is twice a week/has raised a few quid for charity".

However, I visualise MNHQ as a disparate collection of individuals so I say "MNHQ are/aren't..."

When I talk about the government, I am internally visualising the houses of Parliament, hundreds of MPs and ranks of stressed civil servants, so I say "the government are", a lot of the time.

PuppyMonkey Thu 06-Nov-14 16:29:33

I do think it's one of those that both sound ok... It's not as simple as "just use is. "

The National Lottery have backed a scheme

The National Lottery has backed a scheme

The police are

The tax office is

The NHS has denied

The Government is

The Council has turned down planning permission.

One Direction are splitting up wink


DadDadDad Thu 06-Nov-14 16:40:13

Queen and Puppy - good examples, which illustrate that usage (by thoughtful writers adhering to standard English) allows for "are" as well as "is". However, Queen, I would say that your "National Lottery is" example is about NL as the game not the organisation. It's only the organisation sense that allows "are".

I know some come on Pedants' Corner to express their rage at grammatical errors. I get enraged (a bit) that some say "I would mark 'are' as incorrect" without giving some evidence or reasoning for that position!

LineRunner Thu 06-Nov-14 17:53:17

My OH's son's personal support worker, who assists with his English lessons, uses 'should of'. I was beginning to wonder if I had missed a memo. Glad to hear it is still wrong.

The National Lottery is an organisation.

The National Lottery are an organisation.

Only the first sounds right to me.

QueenTilly Thu 06-Nov-14 18:45:19

Oh, that example of mine definitely refers to the game, but that's the thing. The organisation and the game are so intimately connected that The National Lottery is always sounds better.


"The National Lottery are an organisation" makes me wince! grin It definitely sounds wrong, but I think that's the 'a/an' with the 'are'.

With 'the', it's a much weaker wince. Although I still wince.

The National Lottery are the organisation.
The National Lottery is the organisation.

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