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.
This is a piece about the differences between UK and US English: http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-reference/american-english-vs-british-english/differences-in-american-and-british-english-grammar-article/152820.article The part about collective nouns reads: "In British English, collective nouns, (i.e. nouns referring to particular groups of people or things), (e.g. staff, government, class, team) can be followed by a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group is thought of as one idea, or as many individuals, e.g. 'My team is winning.' / 'The other team are all sitting down.' In American English, collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb, so an American would usually say: Which team is losing?"
This is another piece, this time specifically from a UK source. https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/09/05/agreement-over-collective-nouns/ It says "In British English it’s absolutely fine to treat most collective nouns as either singular or plural – you can say my husband’s family is very religious or my husband’s family are very religious." but "American English takes a slightly different approach to the agreement of verbs with collective nouns. There is a very strong preference for the use of singular verbs with such nouns [...]."
If you feel reluctant to accept evidence from these kinds of casual online sources, here is a link to an academic article in the field of linguistics dealing specifically with verb agreement with collective nouns in UK English. I don't know if you have access to a university library, but you should still be able to see the abstract even if you don't, which talks about the variability with respect to verb agreement of collective nouns in UK English (as well as how this may be changing under influence from US English): https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics/article/collective-nouns-and-language-change/306A3ABB167F0F5898FFC72380FAC841
I hope this helps.
the professional linguist known on Duolingo as "Jae633849"
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.
I've read all the comments and I disagree tha "my generation do not eat fish"miss incorrect. The word generation refers to a group of people, so It is by nature plural. To say generations is a plural of mutiples. Therefore "my generation do not eat fish" is correct English.
Generation is a collective noun. It is and always will be singular. Just like the word "money." If I have one bill, I have money. If I have two bills, I have money. If I have 80 billion bills, I have money. If I put one bill on the table, then there is money on the table. If I put all 80 billion bills on the table, then there is money on the table. Never would I say that there are money on the table. There are coins on it, there are bills on it, but there is money on it.
Dear Katevolution, I don't think they are the same at all, because "money" is an uncountable noun in ordinary English- you don't say 1 money, 2 moneys, etc. Because it's not a countable noun- you can count dollars or pennies or coins, etc, but not moneys- you won't say "the moneys are".
As an uncountable noun, money goes in the same category as, amongst other things, liquids, gases, abstract ideas, and very very small things that you wouldn't bother to count, unless you're nuts-e.g. water and oil, oxygen and methane, love and hatred, rice and sand.
It's a complicated subject, because you can say "oils" , for example, if you are meaning different types of oil, and, with a different meaning, you can use many of them as countable nouns, too, but the normal thing is that those are uncountable.
I think you are right that money is a kind of collective noun, but as an uncountable one, it's a different question- but that's been discussed elsewhere here.
"Generation" is a countable noun. You can say 1 generation, 2 generations, so it's totally different.
The difference between "generation is" and "generation are" is a completely different question.
Yes but...... I suppose that there is an exception for every thing. An accountant or lawyer might refer to "monies in hand" for instance. But we're getting bagged down in detail - English detail at that - when we are learning Italian. Surely the aim is to communicate successfully.We must get the tense, person, singular or plural right as these are simple right/wrong matters. t would be helpful if Duo had some leeway and judgement built into it, seeing that English has so many sub-sets.
fickletickle: There are two words in play here: generation and generations; the latter is the plural of the former, making IT singular. This isn't rocket science. Singular noun > singular verb; plural noun > plural > plural verb. My generation DOES not eat fish, nor DO the generations of my parents and my grandparents.
I think you're missing a crucial part of the sentence. A generation can't eat anything, since it's an abstract noun. The interpretation, therefore, defaults to "The people of my generation". In a similar way, "My family fight amongst themselves" is interpreted as "The people of my family", since "my family fights with itself" would never be used.
I'd just really like to know what eating fish has to do with if you're Gen X, Gen Y or a millenial!
Wow, it's weird how natural and instinctive replying with 'my generation do not eat fish with' is and yet how grammatically more correct the 'doesn't' version sounds. Forget the rights or wrongs of the former, it's the contrast which I'm amazed by, as a naturalised British citizen who's grown up speaking this way.
"Do" or "Does" a bit of a grey (or gray) area. Depends on whether "Generation" is strictly singular or plural. I rather think that both would be accepted in Northern England. In the background, unsaid, is "Members of" my generation, requiring "do"...........? Withall, the full sense is conveyed either way.
It is not just in Northern England, but the whole of England, where both the plural and singular forms are correct. There is sometimes a slightly different meaning, say with 'the people is' and 'the people are'. 'The police is' is hardly ever heard, with 'the police are' being normal. 'The government are' and 'the government is' are used interchangeably. Language is democratic and not always logical. If language were logical, we would not have all this fun discussing it. Note 'were' was subjunctive not plural. Unlike the Americans, we rarely use the present subjective, and the past subjunctive is fading away.
AnthonyDiNome0 Some of us agree with you. Some of us don't. You have both arguments here.
Regardless of outright right or wrong, it seems that US English insists on "my generation doesn't", and UK English says that whether you use "don't" or "doesn't" depends on how you view it all, but that "don't" would be more normal.
I don't know about other Englishes. New Zealand, Jamaican, South African, etc- anybody?