San
Lv 5
San asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 year ago

Which word is correct?

A gang of young girls (was / were) screaming, waving and swooning at the sight of the celebrities.

Thanks!

14 Answers

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  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    1 year ago
    Favorite Answer

    In both American and British language, the speaker technically has the option of doing either, depending on whether you view the gang as a single entity, or as a bunch of individuals.

    However, as indicated by many here, British English tends to prefer "were" in this instance. American English, on the other hand, is far more often "was".

    The people talking about "were" as an exception to American usage to indicate acting individually are mostly wrong, except that they do have the choice to do so. Unlike them, I will cite sources below.

    Source(s): http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-refe... - (note though that this article falsely claims Americans always use singular verbs with collective nouns); https://www.grammarbook.com/newsletters/101111.htm (this lists the rule correctly, but does not indicate that there is a difference in preference between American and British English)
    • San
      Lv 5
      1 year agoReport

      Thanks!

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  • John P
    Lv 7
    1 year ago

    In normal British English, as used today, it would be "A gang of girls were screaming, .....". In earlier times some teachers might have insisted on "....gang was...".

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  • Lôn
    Lv 7
    1 year ago

    A gang WAS screaming.

    Girls WERE screaming.

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  • Anonymous
    1 year ago

    Were, because the girls were doing different things. In the US, we probably wouldn't use the term 'gang' here. American usage is almost never "stricter" than British usage.

    A CROWD of young girls WERE screaming, waving and swooning at the sight of the celebrities.

    Or how do you like the alliteration of "gaggle" of young girls?

    • Pontus
      Lv 7
      1 year agoReport

      'American usage is almost never "stricter" than British usage.' - false.

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  • 1 year ago

    a gang (of whatever) was....

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  • 1 year ago

    American usage is much stricter about this than British usage. To Americans, the fact that the word 'gang' is singular is all you need to know. Singular noun = singular verb.

    However in British English we allow ourselves more flexibility. If we consider that the actions of the 'gang' are unified and coordinated, we use 'was'. If we consider that each member of the gang is acting independently, we use 'were'.

  • 1 year ago

    was is the normal usage

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  • Edwena
    Lv 7
    1 year ago

    You have an exception to the rules here. Since gang is the subject, was is the proper verb. But, were sounds better and generally better. It gets down to the speakers inferred meaning of the action of the girls. Were the girls in the gang acting in unison or individually? To use were will imply that they were all acting differently. To use was would mean that the gang was doing the same thing. The gang of girls was waving. The gang of girls were screaming and fainting. Since very few speak with such precision, most would say gang of girls were........ .

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  • Susie
    Lv 7
    1 year ago

    Actually you can use both. “Gang was” as a single unit, or “gang of young girls were” seeing the girls individually as opposed to the whole group as one unit.

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  • 1 year ago

    a gang was

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  • audrey
    Lv 7
    1 year ago

    Was. A gang was. Of girls is "descriptive". Personally, were sounds better but I never was an English teacher.

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