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The family was eating lunch or the family were eating lunch? Which is correct and why.Thanks.

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Both are correct. A word such as "family" can be used singularly (was) or as a collective noun (were).

    In cases like these, however, it is more usual to use "family" as a collective noun, hence "my family were eating lunch". Using "family" in the singular in this context would be considered unidiomatic.

    Other collective nouns include: government, team, association, school, group, organisation, etc.

    It should be,the family were eating lunch and not the family was eating lunch.Had it been it was one person eating then it would have been,Honey was eating(present participle) lunch.Another illustration goes thus : I was at the mall yesterday-right. You can not say, we was at the mall but we were at the mall while I am-present/I was-past tense, We are-present tense/we were-past tense.

    was or were? "The family" is single, thus you should use "was".

    If there are several families, then you can use "were". May be you are confused because the word has a plural meaning, but it doesnt matter. We treat the word "army" as singular :)

    I would prefer using "having lunch" instead of eating lunch: "the family was having lunch"


    Edit: It's true that sometimes "family" can be used in plural form. There are some words like this, which can be used in both plural and singular form, depending on the meaning. However in this case, since the word is a group of people united under the same roof, we should use singular form.

    If you treat "the group" as a unit, it will be singular, if you treat it as a number of individuals, it should be plural.

    i agree with James's answer

    james is correct, family is a collective noun,
    The family was eating lunch
    is correct

     

    was

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