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As far as I know, in American English, we can see singular team names as either plural or singular. So, "Golden State are the best team in the NBA" and "Golden State is the best team in the NBA" are interchangeable sentences in American English. Also these are interchangeable: "Golden State has the best players in the league" and "Golden State have the best players in the league" Am I right? In my experience, Americans can say these in either way.

So, what about the cases when we use the team names which are plural? Can we use "is" or "has" after them? For example are

  • "Lakers have a better team this year"

and

  • "Lakers has a better this team this year"

interchangeable?

Or are these interchangeable?

  • "Cavaliers are his favorite in the league"

and

  • "Cavaliers is his favorite in the league"

My opinion: I think after plural team names, it is better to use "are" or "have", but if we use "has" or "is", it doesn't sound very weird. I have been watching the NBA for a quite long time, and I feel like Americans can use "is" or "has" after plural team names as well. I am not sure though.

4 Answers 4

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In American English, when we referring to the team, we treat it as a plural if the name we're referring to it by is in plural form, and as singular if the name we're using is in singular form. We also always use the word "the" as part of a team's name.

So, we would say

The Lakers are the best team this year.

or

Los Angeles is the best team this year.

It would be wrong to say "the Lakers is," and it would be wrong to say "Los Angeles are" in American English, although I understand this is correct in British English. It's wrong to say "Lakers are".

A team's name is almost always plural, and the name of the place it's from is almost always singular, but there are a few teams (for example, the Minnesota Wild) with a singular name. In these cases, we would use is:

The Wild is the best team this year.

1
  • Are you sure we'd only use "The Wild is"? I can find numerous examples of "The Wild are" in texts published by ESPN, the NHL, CBS. Likewise, I found "The Seattle Storm are" used by the New York Times, ESPN, the WNBA, and some local news stations.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 16:57
0

Mentioning the names of sports' teams in American English:

Questions: 1) "Lakers have a better team this year"

"Lakers has a better this team this year" interchangeable?

Or are these interchangeable?

2) "Cavaliers are his favorite in the league" and

"Cavaliers is his favorite in the league"

In the US, sports' teams when mentioned casually in conversation or even in writing, are preceded by the determiner.

1) "The Lakers have a better team this year." Lakers=uses a plural verb in AmE.

2) "The Lakers team is better this year." Lakers is "adjectivized" and team is singular. Generally though, the word team is not inserted as it is not necessary.

3) "The Cavaliers are his favorite in the league".

4) "The Red Sox have become a great team". This is a team without an s but also typically takes "a plural verb". This is its Wikipedia entry:

"The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball as a member club of the American League East division."

The rules collective nouns is not the same as in BrE, where a group is often the reason a plural verb is used. In any event, WalMart is always singular.

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  • Maybe also worth mentioning that you could ask someone, "Who is your favorite Laker?" or "Who is your favorite Lakers player?" but you wouldn't ask, "Who is your favorite Lakers?" I'm not exactly sure if that's in the scope of the OP's question.
    – mathewb
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 20:47
  • @mathewb You are so right about that.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 21:05
  • @Lambie Thank you. What do you think about "Los Angeles Lakers are..." and "Los Angeles Lakers is..."? I think they're like interchangeable. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 8:09
  • 1
    @FireandIce I guess I have to repeat what I said above: The "English" rule does not apply in AmE. Especially sports' lingo. The LA Lakers team is//The LA Lakers are a good team.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:09
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I am not a native speaker, but I am a dire NBA fan. So please allow me to answer.

Let's listen to this video.

Now if you start listening to the commentary by the narrator, he says,

From 0:55~

"And the Chicago Bulls have won their first ever NBA championship".

And let's go to the lineups of the all team in the NBA.

Most of the team has "s" which means plural. But a bit few teams don't have s at the ending of their team name such as Miami Heat.(Wiki)

Wiki says,

Miami Heat are an American professional basketball team based in Miami.

So it's plural.

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Don't confuse team names with mascots. "Golden State" follows the flexible rules of collective nouns, because it refers to the team. "The Warriors" is always plural, because it refers to the players.

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  • Can anyone help me understand why this got downvoted twice? Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 15:03
  • Downvote wasn't mine, but you should be careful making statements about something always following a particular rule, especially when it doesn't. "The Warriors" is an interesting naming choice for a team hailing from Oakland.
    – mathewb
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 18:20
  • That's a quote. You're referring to the phrase, "The Warriors." Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 19:10
  • I didn't downvote either, but I am extremely dubious about your reason "because it refers to the players". You're saying that if a team happens to have a name which is plural, then the semantics of that name are different from a team-name which is not plural? (I don't disagree with your main point,btw, just with the reason you have given).
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 15:08
  • @Colin Fine Yes, I'd say that's the case. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 6:25

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