Public transport service = They? Hello everyone! In a sketch from "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (this one - https://vimeo.com/139029286, from 04:21) the character says: "It's taking so long because you have let the public transport service of this country run into the ground! They've become a standing joke!". Could you please tell me why it's "They've" in the second sentence and not "It's"? Does this "They've" refer to "service"? Or is it actually "services"? Is it okay to say it that way or is it a colloquialism? Thanks in advance!
Nov 11, 2017 12:36 PM
Answers · 11
This is a rather interesting question about groups of people, and the question is, do you still use the plural form because you are talking about people (they) or do you use the singular form for one group (it)? It seems to be a regional difference, and only a style guide could tell you which usage is appropriate. Calling the public transport service "they" (ie. all the workers and employees) is perfectly fine.
November 11, 2017
This is common in the UK. Many people work for/are involved in the public transport service, so it gets treated as plural and takes a plural verb. 'It's' would be equally valid and also sounds natural to me, there you would be treating the service as one separate body and therefore it would take a singular verb. This second way is I believe preferred in American English. It's just a slightly different way of thinking about things. What doesn't sound natural to me is when things like sports teams get referred to using a singular verb, which like I said above is the convention in American English (unless the name of the team ends in a 's', then they seem to switch to use a plural verb) i.e. 'Manchester United is playing well'. In the UK, they almost always take a plural verb in that situation... Manchester United are playing well.
November 11, 2017
i find it confusing a bit, and i'm not quite sure to say that it may refer to a third non-mentioned part here, which could be (the responsible authorities or something like that) .. that was just my assuming and i'm waiting like you for some natives to confirm, add something, or correct any possible mistakes . good luck
November 11, 2017
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