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Today while reading news I came across this line :

India defeated Bangladesh to reach the champions trophy 2017 final where it will face arch-rivals Pakistan.

I doubted whether it will be arch-rival or arch-rivals so I googled for the word and found another sentence on oxford learners dictionaries website :

a game between Rangers and their arch-rivals Celtic.

Merriam-Webster quoted this example

In baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees are archrivals. ( Yes it was without hyphen)

For me the arch-rivals in third example seems fine as we are taking about two teams( two subjects are referred , indicated by are too that we are referring two subjects) which are arch rivals for each other. But the arch-rivals in first two example doesn't sounds all right, in first and second example we are talking about India's and Ranger's opponent (single subject) so shouldn't be arch-rival used there in place of arch-rivals ? Or it is because we are referring to collective noun( team) we have to use arch-rivals ? Or is it we always use arch-rivals everywhere ?

Another question, is it okay to use it without hyphen or its an error in Merriam-Webster ?

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In some dialects of English, teams, unless referred to by a plural name, are referred to in the singular (e.g. "Toronto is" but "the Blue Jays are"). In others, they are considered to be plural by default:

Sunderland are one of the UK's most underrated football teams.

Toronto is a very successful franchise in Major League Baseball's American League East.

I suspect this explains your difference. Celtic would be considered plural in the UK, so are Rangers' arch-rivals, but the Boston Red Sox are the arch-rival of the New York Yankees.

Even here, it wouldn't be uncommon to consider a team to be "arch-rivals" even where teams are considered to be singular entities.

  • I believe this answer is correct but a little confusingly-worded. In some dialects, such as American English, collective nouns take singular verbs. In other dialects, such as British English, collective nouns may be considered singular or plural depending on context. – Jay Jun 15 '17 at 20:11
  • I suspected the same cause of the confusion, but here is what I don't get: if we're dealing with a variety of English that considers teams to be plural, why in the first sentence do we refer to India as "it" and then immediately switch to the plural, "arch-rivals"? Shouldn't it ether be "it will face arch-rival" or "they will face arch-rivals"? – cjl750 Jun 15 '17 at 20:20
  • @cjl750 that's the question for which I am too looking for the answer. – user212388 Jun 16 '17 at 0:15

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