Plu­ral and sin­gu­lar

YOUR QUES­TIONS AN­SWERED By FADZI­LAH AMIN

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FASHION -

Fadzi­lah Amin an­swers a reader’s ques­tion about me­dia and au­di­ence.

WMe­di­ais/are: You can use ei­ther “me­dia is” or “me­dia are” depend­ing on what mean­ing of “me­dia” you use.

“Me­dia” is now most com­monly re­garded as a col­lec­tive­noun, mean­ing news­pa­pers, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and other means of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion. As a col­lec­tive noun, it can take ei­ther a sin­gu­lar or a plu­ral verb.

How­ever, “me­dia” is also used as the plu­ral of “medium” (its orig­i­nal mean­ing). Used in this sense, it is a plu­ral noun and takes a plu­ral verb. For ex­am­ple, the lan­guage used for teach­ing in a school or uni­ver­sity is called “the medium of in­struc­tion”. If more than one lan­guage is used, the lan­guages are re­ferred to as “the me­dia of in­struc­tion” as can be seen in the fol­low­ing sen­tence in a job advertisement for the Hong Kong Bap­tist Uni­ver­sity:

“The me­dia of in­struc­tion are English and Can­tonese/Pu­tonghua.”

Au­di­ence/au­di­ences: The com­mon­est mean­ing of “au­di­ence” is a group of peo­ple as­sem­bled in one place to watch and/or lis­ten to a play, film, con­cert, speech, etc. In this sense, “au­di­ence” is both a col­lec­tive noun and a sin­gu­lar count­able noun. As a col­lec­tive noun, it can take ei­ther a sin­gu­lar or a plu­ral verb, e.g. “The au­di­ence was/were clearly de­lighted with the per­for­mance.” (on­line Cam­bridge Ad­vanced Learner’s Dic­tio­nary).

As a sin­gu­lar­count­able­noun, it can be used with the in­def­i­nite ar­ti­cle “ a” and has a plu­ral form, “ au­di­ences”. Here are some ex­am­ples of its use:

“The de­bate was tele­vised in front of a live au­di­ence.” (Ox­ford Ad­vanced Learner’s Dic­tio­nary)

“She lec­tures to au­di­ences all over the world.” ( on­line Cam­bridge Ad­vanced Learner’s Dic­tio­nary)

I looked at more dic­tio­nar­ies, Bri­tish and Amer­i­can, and all of them say “in ac­cor­dance with”, but I was puz­zled, be­cause “in ac­cor­dance to” is used in some re­spectable Bri­tish sites. So I turned to what has been de­scribed as “the grand­fa­ther of the Ox­ford dic­tio­nar­ies” which is sim­ply called the Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary or OED, to see what it has to say. This is its sec­ond def­i­ni­tion of “ac­cor­dance”:

“ b. esp. in the mod­ern phrase, in­ac­cor­dance­with (rarely to): in agree­ment or har­mony with; in con­form­ity to.”

So, “in ac­cor­dance to” is ac­knowl­edged as a rare oc­cur­rence, but it is ac­knowl­edged nev­er­the­less, with “in ac­cor­dance with” be­ing by far the com­moner form. I don’t think the two prepo­si­tions are used af­ter the word “ac­cor­dance” hich is cor­rect: “me­dia is” or “me­dia are”; and “au­di­ence” or “au­di­ences”? – YapSingYeong What is the cor­rect prepo­si­tion to use with the word “ac­cor­dance”? Both the Cam­bridge and Ox­ford on­line dic­tio­nar­ies use “with”, while I found “to” be­ing used in these ex­am­ples:

1. “Op­po­si­tion Leader said the op­po­si­tion sup­ported the amend­ments be­cause they were in ac­cor­dance to the con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ments.” ( theSun, Oct 1, 2010)

2. “ We have made the trans­fer in ac­cor­dance to your request” (a let­ter from a bank). – PaulChan

To or with

for dif­fer­ent pur­poses.

Be­low are some ex­am­ples of the use of “in ac­cor­dance to” in Bri­tish sites on the In­ter­net:

“You are re­quired to ad­here and com­ply to the pro­vi­sions of the Health and Safety at Work Act, re­lated Reg­u­la­tions and in ac­cor­dance to the Uni­ver­sity’s Pol­icy on Health and Safety...” (Leeds Uni­ver­sity Maths Dept job advertisement)

“But if you start from the top and work your way down, it makes per­fect sense: ev­ery­thing was done in ac­cor­dance to plan.” (tele­graph.co.uk, Oct 7, 2010)

This Agree­ment shall be sub­ject to and in­ter­preted in ac­cor­dance to the laws of Eng­land and Wales and the par­ties shall sub­mit to the ex­clu­sive ju­ris­dic­tion of the English courts. (guardian.co.uk Aug 10, 2004)

It’s get­ting weirder

1. Is there such a word as “weirder”? Some peo­ple say the cor­rect term is “more weird”.

2. Is there a dif­fer­ence be­tween “has been” and “had been”? eg. He has/had been a good man. – LJ

1. Yes, there is. “Weirder” is the com­par­a­tive form of the ad­jec­tive “weird”. There is even “weird­est”, the su­perla­tive form. Look up the fol­low­ing on­line dic­tio­nary, type “weird” in the search box, and when it comes up, click on the box marked “Word Forms”: www.macmil­lan­dic­tionary.com

“Weird” is a one-syl­la­ble ad­jec­tive, and such ad­jec­tives usu­ally have “-er” and “-est” end­ings for their com­par­a­tive and su­perla­tive forms.

2. Yes, “ has­been” is a pre­sent­per­fect verb and “ had­been” is a past­per­fect verb. When you say “He has­been a good man.”, you mean that he was a good man and still is at the present time. When you say “He had­been a good man.” the state­ment is not com­plete un­less you men­tion a time in the more re­cent past when he stopped be­ing a good man, e.g. “He had­been a good man un­til he lost his job. Now he snatches hand­bags for a liv­ing.” The verb ex­press­ing what hap­pened in the more re­cent past, i.e. “ lost” is in the sim­ple past tense.

Re­fusal to com­ply

We say “Mum asked him to apol­o­gise, but he re­fused.”

But we say “Mum asked him to apol­o­gise, but he didn’t want to.”

Here are some sen­tences from the In­ter­net with a sim­i­lar struc­ture to your first one:

“A party mem­ber asked him to apol­o­gise, but Cash­man re­fused.” (New States­man, Sept 15, 2003)

“In Derekoy, BTC asked vil­lagers to sign, but they re­fused.” (from a Bri­tish par­lia­men­tary pub­li­ca­tion)

Do we say, “Mum asked him to apol­o­gise, but he re­fused.” or “Mum asked him to apol­o­gise, but he re­fused to.”? – Ah­mad Write to: Mind Our English, The Star, Level 3A, Me­nara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor Fax: 03-7955 4039 E-mail: english@thes­tar.com.my Web­site: www.thes­tar.com.my/ english

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