Band Name: The Verbs of Being

About a month or so ago Spin Magazine ran a front-page article on the near-ubiquitous band Mumford & Sons and the proliferation of so-called Americana bands, specifically (or especially) those that hailed from outside the U.S.

The slug on the cover included the following sentence, about which my wife & I disagreed over the verb of being used.

Here’s an image and a blockquote so you can decide for yourself if you’re and “is” or an “are”. Not as sexy as team vampire vs. team werewolf, but there you have it.

Mumford & Sons Spin Magazine Cover
Mumford & Sons Spin Magazine Cover

The New Americana Revolution
Mumford & Sons
How a band of Brits are leading the charge

It’s standard in both American English and British English to have proper nouns that are plural in form take a plural verb. So if we were dealing with “Mumford & Sons are leading the charge” there’d be no debate. The sentence would be grammatically correct.

As it stands, Jenn argues that the sentence should read “How a band of Brits is leading the charge” and I argue that it’s fine as it is.

My reading of the sentence is that the phrase “band of Brits” is an appositive and that the subject of the sentence is actually still Mumford & Sons. Even if it’s not an appositive, isn’t “band of brits” a plural noun much like a murder of crows or a herd of cows?

Collective nouns have their own rules and I think I may be on the wrong side of the linguistic law if I use that argument. Maybe. Judge for yourself if I’m interpreting the rules correctly or incorrectly.

Regardless of whether I’m being fooled by a Britishism or just plain old English grammar in general (a distinct possibility, I’m willing to admit it) the Brits don’t like some of our favorite turns of phrase either. Behold.

Whatever you make of all this linguistic and grammatical pedantry (past, present & I’m sure to be future), I’ll let Stephen Fry have the last word.

Maybe I should stop blogging about my minor language quibbles and foibles?


Happy Thursday!

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