FRIHOSTFORUMSSEARCHFAQTOSBLOGSCOMPETITIONS
You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!


The United States of America are/is?





ocalhoun
This may seem like a trivial grammatical detail, but do you say that the USA is something or that the USA are something?

Really it isn't trivial at all. I've noticed that in writings before the civil war, 'are' is generally used, while afterwards, it changes to 'is'.

This reflects how the nation used to be a coalition of states, and has now become a single entity. Personally, I don't agree with Lincoln's quest to bring all the states under strong national control, which was the major cause of the civil war, and I think it is still causing us problems today.

What's your stance on the state's rights issue? It's amazing what a little grammatical trifle like seeing the word 'are' where you're accustomed to seeing 'is' can dig up in the way of complex issues.
Indyan
As of now to the world USA is a country comprised of many states.
Afaceinthematrix
This is an interesting question. I would say the USA is something simply because the USA are something sounds funny. Also, I ready somewhere onetime that the United States of America is considered singular because the USA is supposedly united into one...
nilsmo
The states and the federal government share power. There are certain powers off-limits for federal governments, and certain powers the federal government can exercise over states (like taxing them).

Here's a list of powers the federal government has, from the Constitution, the "supreme" law of the US:
Quote:
Section 8: The Congress shall have power

To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;—And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.


Notice the phrase "all laws... necessary and proper" can be passed by the federal government. This clause in addition with the commerce clause saying the national government can "regulate commerce ... among the several states" is often used to let the federal government make many of the laws it wants.

The Tenth Amendment provides the states the rest of the powers (the last quote covered most of the powers for the federal government from the Constitution):
Quote:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

While the federal government typically has power over many national issues (military, etc.) the states have significant power in other areas (law enforcement, etc.) The US has a really weird blended system between state governments and the national government that originates in the Constitution and is interpreted and defined continuously by the Supreme Court.

Also it's the U.S.A. according to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA#Etymology )
Nameless
The USA is ...

'USA' is a collective noun (I think), so it's not pluralised.
tidruG
I think Nameless got it right.

A flock of birds is trying to peck his eyes out, for example
BPrice
its got to be is it just makes more sense
gr8inferno
The USA "is" in trouble right now.
tidruG
Quote:
its got to be is it just makes more sense
I'd proffer to say that it only makes sense because you're very used to it by now. However, it does make sense grammatically to use "is", in my opinion.
Nameless
tidruG wrote:
Quote:
its got to be is it just makes more sense
I'd proffer to say that it only makes sense because you're very used to it by now. However, it does make sense grammatically to use "is", in my opinion.


And at this point I have to interject to point out that grammar often makes very little logical 'sense' at all (unless you can think of a good reason to need both is/are) but is based upon convention ... which it so because people are used to it.
Futile
When USA is used, "is" is the correct verb usage because as Nameless stated it’s a collective noun. In "American" English collective nouns usually follow the singular verb rule. In "British" English collective nouns can be used with either the plural or singular verb usage. You would use "are” when you use United States of America vice USA. You use "are" because States is plural and the main noun in that phrase. "United" is an adjective describing "States" and "of America" is a prepositional phrase used an adjective to also describe "States". Damn...Did I just diagram that?...Bad Futile...Bad. Sorry for the high school English lesson but I know that English is a second or third language to a lot of this forums readers and I thought that I would just give a FYI.
tidruG
Quote:
And at this point I have to interject to point out that grammar often makes very little logical 'sense' at all (unless you can think of a good reason to need both is/are) but is based upon convention ... which it so because people are used to it.
We're going to be drifting off the topic, but I'm going to have to disagree. Grammar has set rules, it's not just because of convention, I think.
James007
tidruG wrote:
A flock of birds is trying to peck his eyes out, for example


Now that's something else! In your example the subject is "a flock". (See the difference with "states")

If the Americans would have called it "the Union of States of America", it would have been clear that the subject is actually "the union", and things wouldn't have been that complicated.

Laughing
tidruG
Yes, but when you say "United States of...", it still becomes a collective noun, in my opinion. Here, the subject is the single united entity, which is made up of many states.
James007
Yes indeed, but it's a "hidden united entity". Although I do not know whether the word "hidden" should be used in the same sentence as "USA". Razz
Sphaerenkern
I learned it that way:
The USA is
but
The United States of America are
jabapyth
Ive also heard of the pre/post civil was change. In my opinion, Its a country, which is sinular. notice the "United" bit.
Bryan_Bezzle
This is from National Treasure 2. Cage said that before the civil war the United States of America was referred to with 'are' and after Lincoln they were referred to with 'is'. I for one don't care how you say it but to say Lincoln and his actions are a cause of many problems today is absurd. The fact that great men like him are murdered is what's wrong. Long live the nation, Long live the states.
friuser
why do people take movies that are fictional into account? Who cares if the USA is or are. Grammar is actually very flexible in this regard and you wouldn't win in any argument as it depends on the context of the conversation or subject involved.
ocalhoun
Bryan_Bezzle wrote:
This is from National Treasure 2. Cage said that before the civil war the United States of America was referred to with 'are' and after Lincoln they were referred to with 'is'.


I've never seen that movie! No wonder so many people were already familiar with that distinction.
liorhm
Without a doubt an interesting question.
First, when you simply say "The USA" then it's obvious you should treat it as singular.
However, when you say "The United states of america" you cannot refer to that as singular, because it's plural!
I guess it's simply content-dependant and that's all...but who knows?!
James007
I saw National Treasure 2 too yesterday. Quite funny the "USA is/are" thing came up Razz
heartbeat
the usa is the usa, but even if it are usa it is still the same crap
James007
Don't flame... Shocked Confused
tijn01
THe USA is a country, and although they think they ARE pretty hot it IS only one country (thank god for that) and so not plural!
HistoryGuy
After the American war for independence, Britain granted independence to each individual colony turned state, and not the states as a whole, who were not yet united. In between independence and becoming 'united,' the states became confederated. This meant no central state, just individual states. Later, with the adoption of a constitution, a federation was created. This installed a federal state over the individual states.
Even though the constitution was ratified, people generally identified with their local state first, and the federal state second, if at all. For example, the flag of Virginia and other states were flown higher than the flag of the United States of America, at least before the civil war. Lincoln never acknowledged the individual states, just what he called 'the union.' In other words, the federal state is all that matters, the local states are essentially meaningless.
Related topics
Reply to topic    Frihost Forum Index -> General -> General Chat

FRIHOST HOME | FAQ | TOS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SITE MAP
© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.