An alternative option for the English translation was 'The staff has the book.'
I've only heard this use of a plural like 'staff' with 'has' in a very rare circumstance when 'staff' related to a Staff Sergeant (which is a rank the British use in some regiments of their army). Is this combination used more frequently elsewhere? I would only use 'have' with a plural like 'staff', but I know there are other accepted constructions for most things, I'm just curious.
I never thought of collective nouns being singular before, just assumed they aquired the 'plurality' of what they described numerically I suppose.
Or, I've been away too long in the company of Americans then, no probs with that though. But I'll listen more carefully when I'm home in Ireland for just how much my own Hiberno has mutated. Probably quite a lot I'd think over the years; I'll end up talking like something out of Bladerunner if I don't stop roaming soon.
There is a useful distinction to be made, which some people employ. If the collective noun is being used in an encompassing sense, the singular works best; if we are talking about individual members of a collective group then the plural is often useful.
"The Cabinet stands firmly behind the Prime Minister on the Brexit issue". (Hollow laughter.)
"The Cabinet are fundamentally divided on this issue, and the government is likely to fall in consequence!" Better to hang together than to hang separately...?
I tend to use staff with a plural verb because I always see the people, not the body, in my mind. If I were talking about a body, not individuals, I might go with "workforce" and use a singular verb, but I recognise that you could go with a plural here too, in the right circumstances.
I don't know about American usage but I was born & live in England & my 'The staff have a book' was marked as being incorrect. Using 'has' here sounds strange & unnatural to me (unless it was being used in a particular context). So next time I wrote 'The team has a book' which was also marked as being incorrect. Thoughts, anyone please?