Audiences or audience? Plural nouns

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Audiences or Audience?

Barry asked a question involving the word audience. Although his question was about verb tense, part of it included the sentence “Some audiences thought it was a special effect.”

I pointed out to Barry that in this case, audience is a collective noun, which means it’s a singular noun representing all the people watching the performance. Barry disagreed. He wrote:

Is it really wrong?
Here is an example from the Cambridge Dictionary:
She lectures to audiences all over the world.
(http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/audience)
The word audience takes a plural form in this sentence.
Is the case different from the original sentence I have above?

All the people in one theater at one time are an audience. Groups of people in multiple theaters at different times (or the same time) are audiences.
She lectures to audiences all over the world = she travels and lectures to different groups of people at different times. At a single lecture, she speaks to a single audience.
The example provided involved a single theater. Therefore, the use should be singular: audience.

If there were an explosion in the theater at each showing, and at some showings, the audience thought it was a special effect while at other showings, the audience thought it was real, then you could say “Some audiences thought it was a special effect.”

The use of “audiences” in your question is a grammatical error because your words do not match your intended meaning (one audience at one time).

Staff or Staffs?

A similar error is in the use of the word “staffs”. The staff of a business consists of all employees. Each employee is a staff member. The only way the word “staff” should be plural is when you have groups of employees from several businesses.

The staff of Acme Industries challenged the staff of 345 Enterprises to a challenge.
The staffs of the two businesses got together for a friendly baseball game.

Research or Researches?

The word “researches” is never used. Although research refers to both the activity and the product, the sum of a number of studies is still “research.” If we need to refer to a number of projects, then we use the words “research studies” or simply “studies.”

These are common errors for people who are writing in English as a Second Language. They use the word “audience” to refer to a single member of the audience when it means everyone watching the show. If you’re writing in English as a Second Language, use my proofreading service to avoid such errors.

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