How to correct these sentences:

Working class is the people who...


Working class are the people who...

  • You need an article... The working class. – Catija Dec 5 '16 at 4:41
  • I would suggest that you avoid the dilemma by always using "the working classes" instead of "the working class." This would not have seemed unusual in the past since the working class was itself stratified (at least in the UK). This is not so much the case today, but it makes for a linguistic convenience. – Mick Dec 5 '16 at 4:59
  • @Mick thanks. The above sentences were just examples. How about a sentence like this: This group of people are those or This group of people is those? I tend to avoid to be verbs in such sentence, but sometimes I need it, I feel awkward. – Tu Do Dec 5 '16 at 5:10
  • Be is intransitive, and the complements it takes are not objects. – snailplane Dec 5 '16 at 6:39

In your specific example

The working class are people who...

"working class" is a collective noun, however you are referring to the individuals in the group ("who"), so a plural verb is appropriate

The working class is (a group of) people...

refers to the group as a whole and so a singular verb is appropriate


| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    This is actually more common in BrE than AmE. In American English we don't usually make collective nouns plural, even when referring to the individuals. So Americans would say, "the working class is ..," regardless of context. See this article for more info. Not always, though -- for example "the police" are plural on both sides of the Atlantic. – Andrew Dec 5 '16 at 5:20
  • Agreed. Cambridge dictionary states that you can use it with either a singular or a plural verb. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/working-class – JavaLatte Dec 5 '16 at 8:16

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