English is not my first language. Sometimes I read some mistakes in newspapers and get confused. Please check below sentences and let me know your valuable feedback.

As per newspapers:

India have won the match.

As per me, it should be:

India has won the match.

My point is that with India (a country) we should use has, right?

  • I'd prefer has, but JMB has done a good job of explaining why I wouldn't dogmatically insist that my preference would be the only correct way to say it.
    – J.R.
    Jan 17, 2014 at 10:52
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    Thanks everyone, I am so sorry because I tagged all the options (American-english, British-Englis etc.), but honestly, I wanted to tag all the options because if I had not tagged all the options, I would never have all the answers. And after all the answers I think both(India has & India have) are right and it depends on a real sense in a sentence. I will keep my self with India has as I have been doing it. Thanks
    – user62015
    Jan 17, 2014 at 18:11

6 Answers 6


When talking about a national sports term, rather than a country, it's not unusual (in British English, at least), to use the plural. This is because a team is regarded as a group of people, whereas a country is not (companies also tend to use the plural; see also here).


India have 11 players on the pitch.

suggests that we're talking about an Indian sports team.


India has a population of 1.2 billion.

which implies we're talking about the country.

  • This is an excellent answer to the question as posed, and it's a good link to the ELU question where I'm quite sure there will be plenty of Americans arguing for "singular verb agreement" as the only acceptable version. To my mind, whilst it's useful for learners in general to know of that UK/US split, it's arguably a bit irrelevant to OP's exact context, since most Americans couldn't care less (or should that be could care less? :) about what I think is most likely a cricketing context. (I suppose we ought to let the Aussies express an opinion on the grammar though! :) Jan 17, 2014 at 18:43

Collective Nouns

The phrase

India have won the match

is not a grammatical mistake. We're not talking about the nation, India per se, what we have here is an example of metonymy, when the name of one thing substitutes the thing itself. In this case, India substitutes the (cricket) team representing India. A famous example of metonymy is "Washington" which we understand it to mean the President of the USA, or its executive office. Likewise, in the UK it is common to refer to the British Prime Minister or the government as "Downing Street" as in:

Downing Street has rejected claims that David Cameron described environmental levies as “green crap” as the coalition explores ways to minimise the impact of green subsidies on household energy bills.

In the OP's phrase it is clear that India refers to a team, let us suppose it is the national cricket team. A cricket team is made up of eleven players, a player is countable thus, in English, team is a collective noun, which can be considered either singular or plural. When we are considering India as a single unit we use the singular verb, when we think of the individuals who make up the team (who play for India) we use a plural verb. An article from New Zealand Herald, January 16, 2014.

India are the world's No 1 ODI side, New Zealand are eighth.

What the journalist is really saying is that the cricket players who play for the Indian team are the world's NO 1 One Day International side players.

Grammar Monster has this to say about collective nouns, which I believe sums it up nicely.

A collective noun can be considered as either singular or plural depending on the sense of the sentence. If it's too hard to make a decision on singular or plural, precede your collective noun with words like members of…, forcing you to go plural.


What I have described above is especially true for British, Australian and New Zealand English. However, in American English, the singular verb is usually preferred. Below is an example taken from:
The Washington Times Communities 1

It is the fourth time the U.S. has defeated Mexico with a 2-0 scoreline in Columbus.

Mignon Fogarty AKA Grammar Girl says this on the matter

Americans tend to treat collective nouns as single units, so it’s more common to use the singular verb unless you’re definitely talking about individuals (3). So in America you would be more likely to hear “The faculty is meeting today” than “The faculty are meeting today.”

Many thanks to @snailplane for giving me the heads up on this one

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    This is a good description of notional agreement. I'd upvote it if you mentioned which varieties of English notional agreement mainly appears in; "India have won the match" is incorrect in AmE, for example, because we AmE speakers expect grammatical agreement instead.
    – user230
    Jan 17, 2014 at 3:00
  • @snailplane May I ask you why didn't you say "I'll upvote it if you mention ..." instead of would and past tense of mention? - I'm studying conditionals and soon will post questions about them, but couldn't wait when I read your comment. Your construction fits in the 2nd type for real but less likely events as far as I can tell. (If you prefer to make this a separate post, I'll do it)
    – learner
    Jan 17, 2014 at 3:20
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    @learner That's a difficult question. You might consider posting a question about the difference between the would and will versions--some other users are better at explaining that sort of thing. My short answer is that I feel the will version is more presumptuous, and of course I don't want to seem presumptuous. (I'm hesitant to analyze it more deeply than that without spending some time thinking about it.)
    – user230
    Jan 17, 2014 at 3:32
  • I think you've answered the important part of the question already! I read in PEU that you could use would to sound more polite than will. Doing so however, and speaking without checking PEU for answers, how would someone differentiate between a polite and unlikely real situation? - I think I'll probably check the relevant section in PEU, if I still have some doubts I'll post them.
    – learner
    Jan 17, 2014 at 3:42

In general, country names, like Japan and Scotland, are not plural nouns. However, in British English, when the name of a group of people, such as a sports team, is a singular noun, it often agrees with a plural verb. This is called a collective noun or a collective singular. Wikipedia talks about it here, and here is another question about it. Here are some examples:

If the United States Government are prepared to meet this request, I hope that as the next step you will be prepared to receive technical and financial missions to pursue these matters using the framework of the Polaris Sales Agreement where appropriate. Yours sincerely, Margaret Thatcher. [Source: A letter to Ronald Reagan, March 11, 1982.]

A man from a different culture is admitted to hospital with a stroke (cerebrovascular accident). His family are absent. [Source: Communication: Core Interpersonal Skills for Health Professionals by Gjyn O'Toole (2012). The text is describing a hypothetical situation.]

The Hoyt family are traced back to Simon Hoyt of Salem, 1629. [Source: The Historical Record, vol. 7 (1897). This is a rare case of collective singular with "family" in American English.]

Manchester United are a club wherein, on the pitch and at meetings between the players and me, the team are encouraged in self-expression. [Source: Manchester United 1958-68: Rising from the Wreckage by Iain McCartney (2013).]

This is far from a rule, though. Here is a blog post by Mark Liberman pointing out how inconsistently British English uses a plural verb with a collective singular noun.


As much as other questions similar to this one have already been answered, I think some of the most important things to consider are context, meaning and sentiment.

Patriotism/Sense of unity: Using the plural for (have) could express an achievement for the whole nation as a group of people.

Being specific: Are we talking about the entity or the people inside it? The BBC has announced a new schedule... Or: The BBC are a close-knit team who...

I think there is a lot of flexibility here, and one can decide in most cases which form to use. Consider my point about sense of unity.

India has won (the Indian team)

India have won (the group of individuals)

  • If you were talking about a group of individuals, you would say "Indians have ..." There are many people in the country (many many many people in India ...) but it is still one country.
    – Jay
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:30
  • I expressed myself badly in the first point actually. More unifying should perhaps be the singular: "has".
    – JMB
    Jan 16, 2014 at 17:45
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    this answer about collective nouns appears relevant: ell.stackexchange.com/a/10893/39. the usage with the plural verb appears to be particularly british, as noted in an edit at the end of the answer; i've encountered this particularly working in standards committees. as a native of the u.s., plural sounds unnatural to me, but the british logic makes sense. so i think either possibility is acceptable, but it depends on where the speaker learned english. Jan 16, 2014 at 18:10
  • I'd be very much inclined to agree with you, and since I'm British, I answered from my standpoint, but if it's different in the US/Canada/Australia etc, then the OP might like to consider the required context/origin.
    – JMB
    Jan 16, 2014 at 21:58

In my point of view, India have won the cricket world cup is correct. Here India in the sense members played to India.

This can be made to singular if we group the members played for India: Indian Team has won the cricket world cup

Please correct me If I am diverted.


"India" is one country, therefore it is singular. "India has ..."

  • 1
    In British English, that's not always true. See the other answers. Jan 16, 2014 at 18:24
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    This question is also tagged american-english. Perhaps this answer could be upvoted if it were changed to say "In American English, . . ."
    – user230
    Jan 16, 2014 at 18:35
  • @snailplane Well, to be fair, it's tagged american-english, british-english, AND australian-english... Which I'm going to fix right now, because that's not really productive. And I'm not a proponent of only using tags and not mentioning the category of English you're looking for in the question text itself. Still, there's the larger point that the answer is only correct for AmE, which is fair enough.
    – WendiKidd
    Jan 16, 2014 at 20:18
  • @WendiKidd Oh, that's a good point. The tags were inaccurate, since the question wasn't about any of those types of English (as written).
    – user230
    Jan 16, 2014 at 20:21
  • Is it really true that in non-US flavors of English, people refer to countries as plurals? They say "India have many rivers" or "Australia are a big country" or "Canada share a border with the US"? I have never heard this usage. I tried Googling for examples but it's difficult to separate them from cases where the country is inside a phrase, like "The people of Canada are ..."
    – Jay
    Jan 17, 2014 at 20:15

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