By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Holmes Hall, 6:45 a.m.


Steam heat at Northeastern on a cold February morning.

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  1. Jack Sullivan

    Just an observation: I believe it should be “is” rather than “are” on the billboard. From the Penn State stylebook, which has the best explanation: “Faculty, like other collective nouns, is used with the singular form of a verb when considered one unit and the plural form of a verb when considered as a group of individuals.” I believe in this case it is a singular unit that is “making tomorrow happen.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Jack: I agree. But it’s marketing, so they’re going to go with whatever strikes them as the most mellifluous.

  2. Jack Sullivan

    @Dan, I think they missed. Seems more discordant and dissonant to my semi-trained ears.

  3. No, this is a case for plural “to be”: the slogan isn’t talking about the entire faculty as a single entity doing one thing together, like a basketball team – it’s talking about their many separate actions … “(use) the plural form of a verb when considered as a group of individuals”

    The fact that this disagreement is possible demonstrates, I would argue, that it doesn’t really matter, so using mellifluous-osity as a guide is perfectly reasonable.

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