The drugs company are trying to

I saw an example sentence from a dictionary as below:

The drugs company are trying to develop a new type of antibiotic.

So it’s used “are” in the sentence, does it mean “the drugs company” is plural form?

Thank you!!!

Yes, indeed!
It’s perfectly correct!
As is: “the drugs company is trying to…”
Here, you win both ways, depending upon the native speaker.
The drugs company can be seen as a single drugs company, hence in the singular, one company, or in the plural as in many people form the company.

You will see many examples of this:
The government is set to…
The government are set to…
The team has won.
The team have won.
Both are right!

American English
Here’s a look at what the U.S. government is already doing…
Unfortunately, the government is not planning to change the policy.

British English
The British government has issued inflation-indexed bonds
The British government have issued inflation-indexed bonds

In American English, collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb whereas in British English, collective nouns can be followed by a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group is seen as a single group or as many individuals.

Examples of collective nouns: family, staff, government, team
In American English (singular)
British English (singular or plural)

A football match consists of two teams, one team consists of many players, so you can see the team as singular - there is only one team on the pitch right now or you can see the team as plural - because there are many players. If the team consisted of a single person it wouldn’t be called a team.

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In American English we would say, “The drug companies are trying to develop a new type of antibiotic.” Here referring to any number of companies, namely among the large multinational pharmaceutical companies, who are probably working independently and competing to develop a new antibiotic or class of antibiotics.

If you’re referring to only one company, then in American English we would say, “The drug company is trying to develop a new type of antibiotic.” Here referring to only one corporation, which may or may not be a large multinational.


I agree with everything you say re: singular/plural, UK/US usage, team is/are etc … but ‘drugs company are’ still just sounds so wrong to me as an AUS/INT speaker.

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It sounds horribly wrong to me me too as a U.S. speaker. “the drugs company” by itself sounds wrong imo. What does that even mean fundamentally?? I would never refer to a single company that makes multiple drugs as “the drugs company”. It is “a drug company”. They may make one drug, or more.

Maria’s explanation helps, and I get it, kind of =) . It just sounds so odd to me as an American speaker.

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That’s indisputable! Of course you’d say
“The drug companies are trying to develop a new type of antibiotic.”

But we are not talking about several companies here, be it global international companies or small biotech companies. It is straightforward and obvious that if you are talking about more than one company you’d use “are”.

That is not the question lilyyang has asked as lilyyang already knows that.

Yes, indeed! I didn’t take that up as that wasn’t raised, that’s another issue to be discussed…
You are both right you’d say “The drug company…” and not “the drugs company” as a matter of a fact.


There you have it brucenator!

American English:
The drug company is…

British English
The drug company is…
The drug company are…

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