Could those commenting on this thread that the 3rd person plural “do” is incorrect in English here, please acknowledge the fact that it is correct in British English, and acknowledge this course is teaching Italian from English, and acknowledge that many Duolingo courses accept mainstream English translations (such as those into British English) on courses teaching languages from English.
Just, that way, we can avoid all this "It's right." - "It's wrong." non-explorative comment, and get down to the fact that as an alternative answer, when learning Italian, irrelevant of the fact that it is incorrect for the English some English speakers speak, it is completely correct and at least equal for the English that a sizeable number of other English speakers speak. (I've said equal - I suspect in my region it's preferable, as I keep typing it and getting marked wrong. I don't want to get it wrong anymore. I want my entirely grammatically valid answer to be accepted.)
Which, so long as the Italian course contributors, like many other course contributors, accept British English variants when translating from Italian into English, means it should be accepted as an answer.
Then those of the comments which just state one point of view or the other without exploring why can be deleted.
Edit: I have no problem with reasonable exploration of usage. Thanks for your comment Germanlehrerlsu, but it would be more useful if you support my main thrust - that the course contributors accept British English variants as most of the Duolingo courses try to do. I want also to add that, contrary to any criticism which implies I might feel it unimportant to discuss regional differences, I'm asking for these very differences to be acknowledged.
I THINK YOU ARE RIGHT HERE: when learning any language, French Italian or whatever, from English, not only is it irrelevant what nuances of regional English are used in a translation, but also there should be some capacity for the system to cope with typing errors. If I type "Ther" by accident, I do not need telling that I should have typed "there": I am not trying to learn English and don't need prompting on it. The tolerance of errors is also different on different courses. Esperanto will usually not let you make a single letter error, where as Welsh will sometimes let you get away with three. Anyway "My generation do...." can be perfectly reasonably argued because the word "they" is implied within it.
SporadicAspirant: I understand your point but discussions, even disagreements of the kind you cite do serve a purpose, that being that non-native speakers of English, whether you understand by native-speakers UK citizens or Americans, can learn what's generally considered standard, non-standard, correct, incorrect usage, while they're studying Italian. Granted learning Italian is users' primary goal, but given that English is the language they're learning it in, I feel it's important and useful to them, not to overlook or shy away from such differences in agreement.
Analogously then, you could also say "my generation" is a shorthand for "the people of the same generation as me", making the effective subject plural in nature. If you are willing to look past the strict grammatical number in "a couple of" (or "a bunch of", or maybe even "a different kind of"?) to expose the underlying semantic plurality, why deny it to the case of "my generation"? It would of course be different if the collective itself were the semantic subject: "my generation is called Generation A", "a couple of ducks (= a duck couple) is a sub-unit of a flock of ducks".
Collective nouns can often take both singular or plural verbs depending on the context. It is because you put emphasis on "birdS" that your sentence is more natural with plural verbs. It is because "my generation" is presented as a single group in this sentence that the singular verb is more natural. Had the sentence actually been "The people of the same generation as me do not eat fish" then the plural verb would be more appropriate because of the emphasis on "people".
chaered: "Couple" can be taken as a collective or as a plural equivalent to a few, i.e., a small unspecified number, 2-3 e.g. I'd say "A couple was invited to dinner" meaning e.g. a married couple, whereas I'd say "A couple of friends were invited to dinner" meaning two or three or four of them. To use a singular verb in a situation like that sounds unnatural and ungrammatical: "A couple of friends was invited." -- I don't think so.
chaered: Thinking about it some more b/c it's an interesting point you raise, the difference is as I've said "couple" can be interpreted as a collective noun which would use a singular verb like most other collectives or as a synonym for "a few" in which case it'd take a plural verb. Other collective nouns don't carry that dual connotation: Dare I say: A couple of examples ARE warranted :-) A team (of 50 athletes) was invited; an army (of 10,000) was assembled, etc. "Couple" however is different and depending upon how one's using it, would require either a singular or a plural verb.
I don't know if this is a reputable source, but it was the first I found online: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/generation [countable + singular or plural verb] all the people who were born at about the same time. Example of use: "My generation have grown up without the experience of a world war."
Silulumesh: That has nothing to do with it. The italian noun is singular and so in italian it must have a singular verb. Compare it to the noun 'la gente' which means people, but uses a singular noun. The question has everything to do with how English speakers see the word 'generation.'
I am 60 english and "my generation do not eat fish" feels more natural to me than dolingo's answer. it is very infuriating that dulingo "do not" accept do not or "don't" as I think most english would say the sentence that way. I will continue marking that my answer should be accepted. Hopefully one day they may get fed up and allow it. I have had an email about another sentence which i marked as "my answer should be accepted" and they have allowed it. So all keep up the pressure on dulingo.
I suppose that this is related to the difference in Commonwealth vs. US English as to whether "family", a collective noun, is singular or plural (as discussed here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1105624 ).
It's odd how attached some people become to the idea that putting a plural verb after a singular noun is wrong. As a native British English speaker, and English teacher for many years I remember how scandalised my class in North America were when I insisted on saying things like "the police are..." (or, as I've just noticed: "my class were..."). I suppose it has become some kind of shibboleth that North American teachers pick up on, and from then on their pupils see it in the same light. If it helps, the following sentence comes from "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language" (Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leach and Jan Svartvik, Longman 1985):
"...and that in BrE either a singular or a plural verb may be used with a singular collective noun: 'The government is/are in favour of economic sanctions.' " Section 1.24 (p19 in my 1999 edition)
I wonder if the people at Duolingo just can't quite bring themselves to allow what to them seems incorrect?
phil...Thanks for your input on this issue. I don't know why but "the police are..." sounds absolutely correct. I can't imagine anyone saying "the police is..." It simply sounds wrong & awkward. On the other hand I'd say just the opposite about your other example: "my class were..." Grammatically correct or not, it simply sounds wrong, though again I couldn't possibly explain why with the one collective noun (police) a plural verb sounds obligatory, while with the other (class) it seems to require a singular. That's the beauty -- and the mystery -- of language I suppose.
Thanks for your observations. I taught for many years in the UK, and although one would occasionally hear "this morning's class was delightful", this would generally be interpreted as the teaching experience itself. If teachers were referring to the group of individuals they teach they would usually say "the class (or 7b or whatever) were dreadful this morning". I think it's because a class is made up of individuals, and, although for administrative purposes it's a collective, if they are difficult, it is John, James, Mary, Louise etc. that are being awkward. One's experience of a class is of a group of people, a "they" not an "it". I'd be interested to know whether North American teachers feel/use language the same way to describe their experience. All I can say is that from my experience, UK teachers, almost without exception, refer to a class's actions with a plural verb. If one said "the class was dreadful" it would generally mean something like "the lesson was dreadful" (because the computers crashed or I lost my teaching notes, or I wasn't feeling well etc.) As you say, we use language in the way we hear it, what sounds "normal".
phil...You make an interesting distinction. I believe on this one North American teachers/speakers in general would by and large use a singular verb. Before retiring 3 yrs ago I taught at the university for 43 yrs. I have to say I can't recall ever hearing "my class were..." in any of your scenarios. For example if my lecture fell flat, I'd say "my class was awful today" (referring to my lecture), and if my students responded by falling asleep or booing, I'd also say (referring to the students), "my class was awful today: the students were rude and unappreciative as well as unprepared. Fortunately neither happened too often! :-)
Interesting that the context of the collective noun matters. I sense that 'the class' can be either 'was' or 'were', 'my class' I would tend towards 'was', and 'that class' most definitely would be 'was'. Seems that in many cases when the collective noun becomes specific it veers towards the singular.
A team, a group, a band, a party, a class, a nation, a family, a congregation, a panel of experts, a government, a company- I could go on for quite a while- these are all more than grammatical structures- they are groups that can be seen as a single unit, or as the individuals that make up that unit. You have a choice how you think about them, and consequently choose grammar that matches how you think. You use your language to express your thoughts- it is a tool, and a native speaker will use differences in word, intonation, word order, etc, that can be incredibly subtle. Where I am from- and I had no idea other varieties of English were different in this respect- it is totally acceptable to use the singular or plural form with words that encompass groups, depending on how we are thinking about them: that is the key thing. Are we talking about it with the people who make up the team in mind? Then we say- "Manchester United are", "The Rolling Stones are", "Coca Cola are" - apologies if this shocks people, this is ordinary, everyday, instinctive English for both educated and non-educated people in parts of the world. If we are thinking about them from a business point of view, we might say "is", but far far more normal to think of the as the people that make up the organisation or team, or whatever. Like Phil, below, I taught English for a fair few years, and would invariably say "my class are..." because I would be thinking of them as the people who go to make up that class, rather than under the dehumanising bracket of 7B or whatever. Your grammar should match your thinking. I am completely happy for Duo to keep US English as the main thing- that's fine by me- just over time, to accept the other, equally good English types that people on here use- except that then we wouldn't have all this discussion :-) As Germanlehrerlsu says, after all, Duo is free and the main point is to be learning the Italian, so let's not get too stressed. Thank you.
Duolingo seems to throw up a lot of sentences about generations, all of which seem a bit odd. Are these just silly sentences to teach us the word "generazione", or: 1) Does "generazione" mean something slightly different from (and less abstract than) the English "generation"? 2) Does Italian discourse make generalisations about generations more often than English discourse does?
IanCraig0: Sure it's frustrating -- we've all been there, but the important thing to remember is Duo's free and #2 using it has helped you/us to learn Italian. Does it really matter that much that it rejected "do" in this example? You know yourself you've understood the Italian and that's what should matter most,, not whether your translation was accepted or not. If you're in a real life situation and hear this sentence, you'll know what it means -- that's what's important.
I feel that 'do' should be accepted, as it is the more common form in England. In teaching English, the variant of English should be noted, as learners could be confused. After all, England invented English. A mathematician might consider 'does' to be more logical, as would the French.
"Do" is acceptable in English English. My language is plastic and dynamic, and our general attitude is that successful communication trumps (oh Lord!) contentious grammatical rules. We do not have the equivalent of the Academie Francaise to police usage, otherwise Singlish would not survive in Singapore nor Hinglish in India. How does Duolngo cope with the transformation of nouns to verbs, such as "a parent " to "to parent"? A little fuzziness built in soften the occasional irritation caused by these petty incidents would help.
Spot on :-) Communication is key, and grammar is meant to serve you, rather than you be a slave to it. As you say above, our language is flexible. Down in the south of England, it's often more likely you'd say that a generation, family, community, etc DO something, because your mental concept is more important than the static definition of the word. You choose grammar that reflects how you see the word. If, when talking about a noun that describes a group, you are thinking of the people who make up that group, you choose (normally without even being aware of it) the grammar form that reflects that. To think about the team and say "is" rather than "are" is, in this place, anyway, a poor use of language. If you say "Liverpool (football club) were pretty good last night", it's because you are thinking of a team of individuals, not one big business. In the same way, you can say Duolingo (thinking about the computer programme thingy) is good, or Duolingo (meaning the community) are great! As one wise teacher said to me once- "Language is not a science; it is an art."
It is regrettable that DL does not seem to be aware that there are nouns that are in the singular but can take a verb in the plural third person e.g. the people are not "is". These nouns are used in the collective sense and the above could be translated as "My generation do not eat fish." Another example (and there are numerous) is " the family send the biscuits" from La famiglia manda i biscotti etc. DL would do well to review and amend.