This is the first of a regular series of posts that will explore aspects of academic writing, including grammar, presentation and style. We hope these insights and advice will prove useful for anyone involved in writing for academic purposes.
One issue that we commonly see is confusion in respect to the use of the word “staff” (as in the employees of a company).
Staff, in this sense, is a ‘collective noun’ (i.e. a noun that refers to a group – like band, family or team). The question this raises is whether we should use it with a singular very or a plural one (is it “staff is” or “staff are”?!).
The simple answer is:
In British English it is more common to use the plural verb with collective nouns. We would say “Our staff are very busy today.” In American English, however, it is the opposite – Americans would say “Our staff is very busy today”.
Read on to the next post if you want the more complex answer!!