In british English the word family takes a plural verb. My question is does the word family take a plural determiner as well?

For example:

These family are willing to help you.

In AmE the word family takes a singular verb so this question is really directed to the Brits.


2 Answers 2


No. Even though a collective noun often takes a plural verb in British English, it doesn't (ever, as far as I can think) take a plural determiner.


No it wouldn't.

It takes a plural verb when the number of actors is plural within the group noun. But the noun remains singular.

Note that I say this with a caveat, but the following regarding how to view group nouns + choice of plural or singular verb can sometimes be useful to think of ( even though with usage this does not reflect all speakers).

Compare the family acting as a unit:

His family is going to Florida.

The emphasis as them moving all as one.

To the family acting as multiple actors:

His family are arguing.

The emphasis on individuals within the family arguing.

So now if we use with a determiner:

This family are arguing.

is fine because there is one 'family' (so 'this') but we are emphasising how the plural number of actors within the family (the family members) 'are arguing'.

However 'these family' would be incorrect because the number of families being described is still one, singular.

  • Right in principle, but your example doesn't work. Actually in BrE, "His family are going to Florida" is at least as likely (I would say more so). You can choose to think of the family as a unit for that purpose, but you can equally choose not to, because all the members are going to Florida. For the distinction you are trying to make, you need some property of the family which is not true of its members, for example "His family comes from Russia", or "His family was mentioned in the Domesday Book".
    – Colin Fine
    May 8, 2019 at 23:13
  • I was trying to give a general situation where a group noun acted as a unit. The platoon is heading west. The government is passing a law etc. The singular verb is not necessary but does convey 'as one', hence the singular verb. May 8, 2019 at 23:21
  • I also gave a caveat on usage, that I was purposefully avoiding to be prescriptive. It is just a useful way of viewing this. May 8, 2019 at 23:24
  • I've formatted a bit. Could you also edit to explain why "These family are arguing" is wrong. As the question was about determiners.
    – James K
    May 9, 2019 at 5:56

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