Is or Are?

Just had a call from one of our grammar workshop alums, who had heard a radio spot where the announcer said, “Our team of experts is waiting…” His question: Should it be “our team of experts is…” or “our team of experts are…”?

Stop reading for a moment and think about it. How would you answer his question?

Answer: It could be either one.

“Team” is one of those pesky collective nouns – words like “family,” “group,” “committee.” So it could be either “is,” or “are,” depending on whether you think of a team as a single unit (“is”) or as a group of individuals (“are.”)

Having settled the grammatical correctness issue, now let’s take a look at the much more subtle “perception” issue – how the reader “gets it” at an almost subliminal level. Would you rather hire an unidentified single unit (“is”), or would you be more likely to hire a group of individuals (“are”) to handle your needs?

Grammar is more than a set of rules which most of us have forgotten. Indeed, grammar can be a powerful tool for subtly shading meaning – for “writing between the lines.”


Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email to learn more.

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