The Festival are clear

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One of the rare syntactic dialect differences between British and American English (there really aren't many) concerns verb agreement in present-tense clauses: British English strongly favors plural agreement with any singular subject noun phrase that denotes a collectivity of individuals rather than a unitary individual. And the extent to which it favors that plural agreement is likely to raise eyebrows with speakers of American English. This example, for example, from an email about a lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival:

The Festival are very clear that if you arrive after the start of the lecture you will not be admitted.

That's not a syntactic slip. The Festival  has been treated as denoting not the unitary institution but the collection of officials who constitute it or run it. Hence it gets plural agreement, as in Manchester United are playing well or Apple are releasing a new phone model. American usage strongly favors singular agreement with subjects that look singular, unless something really clashes with that (I take it that even for Americans The Festival are really beating each other up over the funding snafu is much better than ?The Festival is really beating each other up over the funding snafu). But there are many other subtleties. Never think that verb agreement with subjects is a simple example of a syntactic rule, let alone one that universally works in the same way.

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