1) If the word police is plural, then we have such a sentence

Police are here

Okay, no questions, but what to do with the tag question?

Police are here, aren't it?


Police are here, aren't they?

Because I think it wouldn't be

Police are here, aren't police?

We should change it for some pronoun

2) We can have some dialogue:

A: Do police work well?

B: Yes, it works very well


A: Do police work well?

B: Yes, it work very well


A: Do police work well?

B: Yes, they work very well

Actually it's the same point number 1, but anyway

5 Answers 5


The police are a group of people, and that overrides the idea of them being an entity, so you have to use a pronoun that can be applied to people - you want they.

  • 5
    As a footnote, it's possible to use it instead of they when police is being used as an adjectival descriptor (e.g.: The police force is here, isn't it? or: The police department was here, wasn't it?).
    – J.R.
    Mar 30, 2019 at 20:15
  • 'The police are a group of people', or - The police is a group of people'?
    – Tim
    Mar 31, 2019 at 7:49
  • Very good and to the point. +1 for that. However, did you notice the follow-up question in the comment by @Tim as well? It got me uncertain... Mar 31, 2019 at 16:15
  • @Tim: that's a dialectal variation matter, possibly. Here in the UK, "the police are" is how we would say it in almost any situation. I believe in America, it depends on the context - organisations are more likely to be singular, though the type of organisation does have an impact.
    – SamBC
    Mar 31, 2019 at 16:20

You have chosen a difficult example word. "The police" appears singular, but is usually treated as plural, as it refers to a group of people.

Now in your examples you would probably want an article. This is you mean "the institution of the police" not "some individual police officers". We say "The police are here".

The tag question follows the same verb form: "The police are here, aren't they". The word "police" is usually treated as plural, and the plural pronoun is "they".

Moreover we would say "The police work very well", or "They work very well". We are talking about the institution of the police, and the word "police" is usually treated as plural.

If we want to refer to a particular individual we would have to say "That police officer works well", or "he works well".

So "Police" is usually treated as plural, often has the definite article, and can be replaced with the pronoun "they".

  • It's also worth noting that there is also adjective usage: "a police car/dog/uniform/role" and the nonstandard usage a bit like a nationality, which you hear on The Wire: "I'm police", "Is he police?"
    – jonathanjo
    Apr 27, 2019 at 12:59

To generalize this beyond just the noun "police", when you form a question tag for a statement using some form of "to be", you echo the verb form that was used in the actual question, negated, plus a matching pronoun. Since you said "the police are here", your tag question also uses are (with the appropriate negation). And since are is a plural form, your question tag must also take a plural pronoun.

So any time you say "X are Y", the appropriate question tag is "aren't they?".

For "X is Y", it's one of "isn't he?", "isn't she?", or "isn't it?", depending on the gender of X.

For "X aren't Y", the question tag is "are they?"

For "You are Y", it's "aren't you?" and for "You aren't Y", it's "are you?".

For "I'm not Y", the question tag is "am I?".

The only interesting case is when you are question-tagging a positive first-person statement:

"I am going, ____ __?"

According to the rule I just laid out, you should be saying "amn't I?", but that is no longer accepted English. (You may encounter it in older works but I sincerely doubt you will ever hear anyone use it as part of their standard conversational style.) Instead, the normal tag is "aren't I?". However, you may also hear "am I not?".


The police are here, aren't they?

Police is usually plural, and works like the noun people.

The people are here, aren't they? or: People are here, aren't they?

Generally, in conversation, we say "The police" etc. [regardless of the side of the pond]

However, in the US, you will ***often**** see/hear:

The police is here, aren't they?

I personally would never talk about police without using "the".

For example:

The Virginia State Police is investigating the discovery of two bodies at a crash site along US 23 in Lee County early Sunday morning.

police is


The police is here to assist and to assure that public order is kept, and that everyone has the right to exercise his or her constitutional rights. That is the reason why law enforcement is here. COLONEL STANLEY GRIFFIN, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE

More American speech: TV show: The Rookie
- ROB: Oh, you gonna walk because the police is here now?
CAPTAIN ANDERSEN: Gentlemen!! Hey, hey, hey.

The Rookie: the police is here

transcript of tv interview

  • 4
    "However, in the US, you will see/hear: The police is here, aren't they?" – how common is that, really? I don't think the police as a subject is used with a singular verb.
    – user3395
    Mar 30, 2019 at 15:19
  • 5
    @MichaelAzarenko Well, I suppose it might be OK to say "The police is here" somewhere in the USA where there is only one police officer working within 100 miles of your location - but otherwise, no.
    – alephzero
    Mar 30, 2019 at 16:52
  • 7
    I'm with @alephzero; police is that rare collective noun that is almost always treated as plural in American English. I would expect to hear The police force is, The SWAT Team is, Law enforcement is, even The po-po is, but The police are from most AmE speakers— even if it's just a single officer pulling up.
    – choster
    Mar 30, 2019 at 19:17
  • 4
    @Lambie what part of the country do you hear that in? In the parts I've frequented (east coast & upper midwest), police is always plural.
    – Hellion
    Mar 31, 2019 at 0:50
  • 1
    @Lambie I think the Virginia State Police example doesn't count. I believe that's the name of a department or some such, which is therefore treated as a separate thing, a department (I'm not sure what to classify it as, but the fact that all the words are capitalized suggests it's a name). What do you think?
    – user3395
    Mar 31, 2019 at 10:52

You can say,'police are here, aren't they.It's correct to say it. If someone asks you,' guess, why am i scared?' You can say, police are here, isn't it.' so, here you can use 'isn't', because that person is scared of one reason and that is that the police are here. so, it depends on the situation in most cases.

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