Should we say “the Olympics is” or “the Olympics are” ?
It’s safe to say that the Olympics is on everybody’s mind these days. I remember the excitement of living in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The city was alive and vibrant, full of excitement, hope, and team spirit. I also love how each Olympics seems to bring the world together. The 2012 Olympic Games are off to a great start, and I was happy to learn that this is the first year where every country will have female athletes competing.
With everyone talking about the Olympics, it is rather important to determine if a singular or plural verb should follow this subject. This very question came up a few days ago, when Tara Benwell was getting ready to record the podcast of an updated ESL-Library’s lesson on the Olympics, which I was about to edit. She asked me if the lesson should use a singular or a plural verb with “the Olympics,” and likewise with “the Olympic Games.” I was stumped, and set about doing some research. It’s funny how we commonly hear both singular and plural verbs used with “the Olympics,” and most of us, including me, probably haven’t given it much thought!
Unfortunately, my dictionaries and style guides didn’t have any direct references to the Olympics. I did some internet research instead. Right away, I noticed multiple uses of both singular and plural verbs following “the Olympics.” Most examples of “the Olympic Games” used a plural verb, although I did see some examples of singular verbs used, too.
We at ESL-Library decided to go with “the Olympics” + singular verb and “the Olympic Games” + plural verb. Basically, “the Olympics” is a collective noun like team or United States, and usually takes a singular verb. “Games,” on the other hand, is a plural noun that should take a plural verb. It’s possible to consider “the Olympic Games” as a collective noun, but “the Olympic Games is…” just doesn’t sound right to me. “The Olympic Games are…” sounds much better!
1. “The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, is scheduled to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia, with some events held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana.”
Source: Wikipedia, “2014 Winter Olympics,” accessed July 29, 2012, www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Winter_Olympics.
2. “In a speech watched around the world, Games chief Jacques Rogge said: “The Olympic Games are coming home tonight.”
Source: BBC News UK, “Young athletes light London 2012 Olympic flame,” accessed July 29, 2012, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19008471.
I’d love to know what you think, too! Do you agree with our decision? Why or why not? Stay tuned for Wednesday’s podcast.
Go for the gold,