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Which of the following is correct according to the rule of collective nouns:

  1. A fleet of cars are parked.
  2. A fleet of car are parked.
  3. A fleet of car is parked.
  • 1
    @Bilkokuya I've removed it because the asker seems to have added a similar comment to every question. I believe they're trying to say they want a good explanation. The difference between the sentences is obvious, and that's what they're asking about (cars vs. car and is vs. are). As per some meta discussions, every answer needs to provide an explanation and not just answer the question, which makes the comment entirely superfluous. – userr2684291 Apr 30 '18 at 16:52
10

A fleet of cars is parked.

Why? It might help to consider the sentence without the prepositional phrase:

A fleet ... is parked.

While a fleet of cars is many cars, our sentence is describing only one "fleet". Consider also:

The team is at the stadium

A team is made up of many people, but the team itself is one item. We can add a prepositional phrase:

The team of football players is at the stadium

And see that we still use "is" instead of "are".

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, this answer is primarily for American English. British English allows either, but to an American (like me) the example sentence of "my family are" sounds quite strange.

  • And we don't say "a fleet of car" because a "fleet" presumably has more than one car. I suppose you might say that as a joke, like I once was joking that I don't have many friends and said, "I invited all my friend to a party". – Jay Apr 30 '18 at 17:09
  • A number of cars are parked, on the other hand, is correct English though. How does this example compare to A fleet of cars is parked? – Michael Rybkin Apr 30 '18 at 21:09
  • @MichaelRybkin: As it happens, and purely in my opinion, that argument is exactly why we're not so fussy about the construct on this side of the pond ... because you can justifiably interpret it either way. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 30 '18 at 21:21
  • Technically speaking "a number of" in that sense is a determiner and not a collective noun, so it takes the plural in AmE as well. – noah Apr 30 '18 at 21:39
  • In my experience (as an American), it is almost always acceptable to treat phrases in the form of "a [set] of [things]" as plural, though singular may be more common in some cases, and can be used to emphasize that the subject of the sentence is the [set] rather than the [things]. My answer to this similar question covers this topic in depth. – DoctorDestructo Apr 30 '18 at 23:43
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cars is a counting noun, hence 'cars'. However, like Noah said, what you are really talking about is the 'fleet', so 'A fleet of cars is parked' is correct.

However, in spoken English, where the rules are fast and loose, you might often hear this said as: "A fleet of cars are parked" because of the similar sentence: "The cars are parked", which wouldn't sound wrong.

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