Apple are evil?

Mike Croucher wrote a post the other day explaining why he’s going to buy an iPad. He said that one of the objections to the iPad he’d heard was

Apple are evil because they take away control of how we use their devices.

I teased Mike that I would never say “Apple are evil.” On this side of the Atlantic we’d say “Apple is evil.” But in the UK it is accepted usage to say “Apple are evil.”

“Apple” is a collective noun when used to refer to Apple Inc. British English treats collective nouns as plural, but American English treats them as singular. Although the British usage sounds odd to my American ears, it makes sense just as much sense as the American convention. You could argue for plural verbs because corporations are made of individual people, or you could argue for singular verbs because the corporations act as a single entity. See Grammar Girl’s tip on collective nouns for more background.

By the way, I don’t believe Apple is evil. They’re just a company, no more or less virtuous than most other companies.

Apple posts:

I am not an operating system
Inside Steve Job’s brain
Protestant PCs, Catholic Macs

Grammar posts:

Important because it’s unimportant
English grammar
Finding grammatical errors in software

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3 comments on “Apple are evil?
  1. Mark says:

    Their corporate logo DOES celebrate original sin… :)

  2. Rich says:

    I thought it was interesting after the discussion of collective nouns that you said “By the way, I don’t believe Apple is evil. They’re just a company, no more or less virtuous than most other companies.” Shouldn’t either the first be “are” or the second “It’s”? Was that deliberate?

  3. John says:

    Rich, great point! I never noticed that. “They” seemed perfectly natural when I wrote this, but I suppose “it” would be more consistent. Now I wonder what most Americans would say in that situation.

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