Friday, March 9, 2012


So this week I've been doing a unit with my students on places in Chicago, giving them a description of a bunch of famous places and having them tell me why they would like to visit certain ones and why (surprise surprise, Pizzeria Uno was the most popular!).

This led me to a random-but-interesting (to me) grammar question. I included Soldier Field on the list of places one might visit in Chicago, and so that led to many of the boys trying to tell about their favorite American football team.

Now, their example sounds (in a Spanish accent) like the word "beers," but as I was taught not to lie I'm going to give the correct example of MY sentence below.

"The Green Bay Packers are my favorite football team."

OK, cool, you say. The Pack are pretty awesome. So what? Well, what if I wanted to switch that sentence around?

"My favorite football team are the Green Bay Packers." No, not right. It's "My favorite football team IS
the Green Bay Packers."

Now imagine me, on the spot, trying to explain to 25 teenagers why we say it in two different ways when the two sentences are identical apart from the subject placement. Except I don't know the answer. I guess it has something to do with "team" being singular but "Packers" sounding plural. So technically (TECHNICALLY although we'd never say it that way) the first sentence is wrong and should be replaced with "The Green Bay Packers is my favorite football team."

Yes? No? What do you think? Have I lost my grammar nazi touch? Why DO we do it that way? Does it even make sense? A little help, please?
We are cheeseheads for life (that sentence I'm sure about).


  1. I think it has to do with collective nouns. From this Wikipedia article: "Confusion often stems from the fact that plural verb forms are often used in British English with the singular forms of these count nouns (for example: 'The team have finished the project.')"


  2. Right, and so to keep with what is traditionally done with American English it WOULD be "The Packers is my favorite football team." It just sounds so wrong because "Packers" seems plural. But if you were to take a team whose name doesn't end in 's,' it does sound right...for example "The Utah Jazz is my favorite basketball team" sounds more right than "The Utah Jazz are my favorite basketball team," which sounds very British to my ears. All so confusing! My poor students.