English Grammar

To the Gymglish Language Computer

"Palo Alto Airport control tower were alerted to the incident after hearing Mr. M."

Dear robot! How are you, affliged by an early pre- Christmas-flew with disease of eyes, writing hands and brain cells dealing present-past and singular-plural-differences?

or is it me, confused by the dayly Weihnachtsmarkt white Glühwein, who cannot determine any more the number of persons working in a control tower and the time of their action?



  • Oh yes, Gwendo, it's you who have had one too many Glühwein glasses that might have been too hot yet. The robot, whichsoever airport it flew to, couldn't have got the flu as it has had its fill of that kind of disease.

    The control tower of EDTF (IATA code of the airfield of Freiburg Imbreisgau) is a building hosting several air traffic services, namely the service which controls air traffic in the CTR (space area around the airfield spanning from ground to a certain height), service whose callsign on radio communications is "Freiburg Tower". The building is likely to host other Air Traffic services.
    The control tower of the Californian Palo Alto airport is in the same ilk because every airports on Earth are ruled according to international agreements, thus "Palo Alto Airport control tower" represents a set of services, therefore several people.

    Now let's come back to the point. English language is not as seriously built up as German.
    1. You know that sentences like this are common: "Everyone knows how they must behave." (Knows, singular; they must, plural)
    2. In the same way, it's customary in English to conjugate a singular noun which evokes a set of people, a set of institutions or services with a verb in the pural.
    "A union at a meat company have called on TESCO, a supermarket chain to intervene..."
    "TESCO are not planning to intervene." (from English newspaper)

    From Englishclub.com:

    The government have (or has?) decided to do something about pollution.
    In English, we often use singular nouns that refer to groups of people (eg government, committee, team) as if they were plural. This is less true in US English.
    This is because we often think of the group as people, doing things that people do (eating, wanting, feeling etc).
    In such cases, we use:
    - plural verb
    - plural pronoun (they)
    - who (not which)
    Here are some examples:
    - The committee want sandwiches for lunch. They aren't very hungry.
    - My family, who don't see me often, have asked me home.
    - The team hope to win next time.

    Here are some examples of words and expressions that can be considered singular or plural:
    choir, class, club, committee, company, family, government, jury, school, staff, team, union
    the BBC, board of directors, the Conservative Party, Manchester United, the Ministry of Health
    But when we consider the group as an impersonal unit, we use singular verbs and pronouns:
    - The new company is the result of a merger.
    - The average family consists of four people.
    - The committee, which was formed in 1983, has ceased to exist.
  • Oh Gee, what a special lesson, it's very interesting to read your instructions. By these very esteemed explanations you exploit a new English language world for me! Thanks again!

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