I found this sentence in an Oxford University Press ESL book.

Is it right?

We're going to a rock concert. A local band are playing, and they're really good.

Is the article before the "local band" determinant for the use of the verb in the plural? I know that "band" is a countable group noun; therefore, it allows you the use of singular and plural verb forms. But is the article correct, in this context?

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


"Band" is a collective noun: a word that describes a group of people.

In American English, collective nouns take singular verbs. We say "The band is ...", NOT "The band are ..." So in America, the sentence you quote would be considered grammatically wrong. (If you are talking about more than one band, then the noun and the verb are plural: "The bands are ...")

I understand the British English sometimes uses plural verbs with collective nouns. I don't know if this would apply to the word "band". Someone familiar with British English please chime in.

  • 1
    In British English, we may use singular or plural forms with group/collective nouns, depending on how you are referring to them. We may say the Government is, as an institution, and the Government are, as a group of Ministries. So band would be the group and its singular form and band as a group of musicians with the use of the plural form.
    – user63193
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:13
  • The question is the use of the indefinite article, in this example. If it were a definite one "The band are playing", I would have no doubts about it. Thank you for your kind reply.
    – user63193
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 21:14
  • 3
    Yes, in British English "A local band were playing" is completely grammatical and normal.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 22:08

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