subject verb agreement - 'is' or 'are'

Hi Alan,

Can I say “John’s family is at the seaside.”

“John and his family are at the seaside.”



Yes and yes.

can we say “john’s family is at the seaside” ??

Yes, and “John’s family are at the seaside”.

Why do you think “are” is also correct, Molly?

Notional concord, Amy. Subjectivity. Ways of perceiving, etc. was “Can I say…”.

Moved by the verdict, Mr Donnellan’s mother said she was proud he’d taken the case to the police in order to clear himself. The family are now celebrating at a secret location.
Six O’Clock News: television broadcast (Leisure).

There may well be problems ahead both for the pupil and for the school if the child’s family are not in agreement with the professionals’ decisions about the educational placement proposed.

The visually handicapped child in your classroom. Chapman, Elizabeth K. & Stone, Juliet M. London: Cassell, 1989

Anna’s family are all dead and she now believes that she is the last person left in the world.

An alternative assembly book. Hoy, Mike and Hoy, Linda. Harlow: Longman Group UK Ltd, 1991

Do you think “are” is incorrect, Amy?

You provided no explanation initially, M. I wonder how many ESL students have now understood or would understand your (belated) explanation.