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 ?


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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.