Dictionary.com

What do the NBA finals have to do with a grammatical nightmare?

Why do the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder sound so odd? Most sports teams—the Bulls, the Knicks, the Lakers, the Celtics—are ordinary plurals. However, the Heat and the Thunder are mass nouns; they are unquantifiable. You cannot have five thunders or three heats, even though there are 12 players on a roster.

As a contributor to Deadspin recently recounted, this is causing a nightmare (or nightmares?) for sports writers across the country. Are these team names plural or singular? Technically, a team is made up of many players, so it should be plural like other teams. However, the actual name of the team takes a singular verb. Take a more general example of a mass noun: water. You would never say, “the water are flowing from the tap.”

Group nouns also trip up students (and professionals). Here’s an example: “A group of third graders is going to the zoo.” Technically, “a group” is the subject of the sentence, and it takes a singular verb (is). Even though you might not notice if the sentence read, “A group of third graders are going to the zoo.”

So what to do about the NBA finals? Should we say: “The Heat beat the Thunder.” Or “The Heat beats the Thunder”? What convention do you think sports writers should use?

123 Comments

  1. Kayla -  February 2, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    I think it should be “beats” since the team is a group (as in the “the group of third graders is going to the zoo” example). But what to do about team names that don’t have an easy plural? My local middle school’s team mascot is the phoenix (the bird, not the city) so the students never know what to say. Phoenixes? Phoenixi? Just “Phoenix?”

    Reply
    • Moicheese -  May 26, 2016 - 6:35 pm

      The Thunder’s will win the game or the Thunders will win the game or the Thunder will win the game

      Reply
  2. Earthling123 -  September 14, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder.

    GO CELTICS.

    ;)

    I love ‘em.

    Reply
  3. Casey Lew -  August 14, 2012 - 11:17 pm

    The group is upset about grammar issues.
    The class is learning about grammar.
    The couple is tired of arguing over grammar.
    **************
    Nobody is going to be The Heat in
    . Miami, which is their/its hometown.

    The Heat plays in Miami.
    The Tennessee Lady Volunteers are winning the game right now.
    The Tennessee Lady Volunteers is a great team.
    The Tennessee Lady Volunteers has/have outstanding coaches.
    The staff is also great.
    (“Lady” used as an adjective to differentiate which group of Volunteers, male or female)
    Interesting.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Molin -  June 23, 2012 - 11:48 am

    To Dean, who said, “There is no exception. All group names are plural,” would you say “The United States are?”

    Reply
  5. James -  June 22, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    Group nouns? Then why o why do we say both ways correctly “a people is born” and “people are awesome?”

    Reply
  6. D -  June 22, 2012 - 10:37 am

    lol just base it on whatever tense your in

    beat for past
    beats for present

    Reply
  7. William McLeod -  June 22, 2012 - 6:38 am

    The problem is not the subject, but the verb; use defeated or bested. No one ‘beat’ or ‘beats’ anyone.

    Reply
  8. Agkcrbs -  June 22, 2012 - 1:29 am

    Way too many opinions, and not enough toilet paper.

    One or two blokes here hit on it: Both usages are right. Whichever you use reflects the way you’re conceptualizing the thing.

    Somebody gave the example of “couple”. If you’re implying an omitted part of your noun phrase, you’ll say “a couple (of people) are coming”. It’s a quantifier regardless. But use it as a single noun, and it goes the other way, “a couple is coming”. They’re both right; in fact, they’re two different words grammatically.

    Likewise, you can think of “group” as a combined unit, or “group” as a collection of units, without any headache, and you’d choose verb agreement accordingly. You can use “The Heat is” as a single team entity, or “The Heat are” as a bunch of players. There’s no conflict; just decide whether you want to talk about it collectively or individually. As a person said above, follow your cognition on it.

    Reply
  9. Jec -  June 22, 2012 - 1:22 am

    and Jazz, too!

    Reply
  10. call me KENZI -  June 21, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    HEAT BEATS THUNDER. YOU ROCK HEAT! xD

    Reply
  11. CJ -  June 21, 2012 - 2:35 pm

    This is all so inter…est…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Sorry, I dozed off for…a…zzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Reply
  12. abberube -  June 21, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    I seems that anything can be pluralized in English. Have you heard of the “the haves and the have nots”?

    Reply
  13. Roxy -  June 21, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    The Heat beat tThunder winner of MBA title! Sounds good to me.

    Reply
  14. Anna -  June 21, 2012 - 8:53 am

    I agree– I recently listened to an audio book from the UK, and noticed that it is common to refer to the government or a business as a plural entity, e.g. “The government are controlling this or that…”, “Manchester United are ahead..”

    Reply
  15. Dan -  June 21, 2012 - 8:45 am

    I would think that the apt grammatical form would be “The Thunder beat the Heat.” Despite the fact that they are mass nouns, the form that should (and for the most part, has) been used would be this type of convention for this specific situation.

    Reply
  16. Josh -  June 21, 2012 - 7:16 am

    Definitely treat them as plural ‘the Heat beat the Thunder’ are obviously teams, but ‘the Heat beats the Thunder’ sounds more like some sort of weather phenomenon…not sports.

    Heat or Thunder when used as a team name is NOT the same as when it’s used as a non-quantifiable noun.

    Reply
  17. Karl -  June 21, 2012 - 6:46 am

    Of course we should never say “you is” even if “you refers to a single individual….

    Reply
  18. quhanicenoska -  June 21, 2012 - 1:10 am

    Watch the Heat beat the Thunder in Game 5. Period

    Reply
  19. sudhir -  June 20, 2012 - 10:15 pm

    Team is a collective noun, hence can be termed as singular.

    Reply
  20. Franz -  June 20, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    “The Heat beat the thunder”

    Reply
  21. Nonya -  June 20, 2012 - 2:51 pm

    @Wesley,
    The Staples Center is named for the office-supply company Staples, Inc., which was one of the center’s corporate sponsors that paid for naming rights. This is the arena’s name. It is not an error and grammar has nothing to do with it.

    Reply
  22. Drew -  June 20, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    Now what of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

    Reply
  23. Xian -  June 20, 2012 - 12:18 pm

    The words heat and thunder are singular when it comes to naming, yes, but It is all a matter of the fact that we know that the Heat and the Thunder as groups of people that form two teams. So saying, “the Heat are winning the Finals and the Thunder are losing”, is relevant to the statement and the reader can comprehend the meaning. In the case of teams taking the team name of an animal, we know that a group of individuals cannot be one bull or one raptor (ex: The Raptor are winning the Finals). It would just sound funny. Having the heat as singular can still be plural because heat itself is an energy, so it follows the gravitational effects as an equivalent amount of mass. It also helps by placing the word ‘the’ before the word heat or thunder, and by capitalising the team name to indicate that it is in fact a name. Sports writers must be slow if they can’t follow this. I guess that is why they write for sports and not books.

    Reply
  24. Alex Exley -  June 20, 2012 - 10:38 am

    It’s not a case where one is correct and the other isn’t. It’s a case where your chosen usage explains your intended meaning of the subject, i.e. whether you are referring to the group as one unit or as individuals acting separately.

    Reply
  25. Alex Exley -  June 20, 2012 - 10:16 am

    It’s not a case where one is correct and the other isn’t. It’s a case where your chosen usage explains your intended meaning of the subject, i.e. whether you are referring to the group as one unit or as a collection of individuals acting separately.

    Reply
  26. FosterRhoda -  June 20, 2012 - 9:22 am

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    Reply
  27. Mackenzie -  June 20, 2012 - 8:22 am

    oh wait i already commented the same thing…

    oh wow i make a fool of myself a lot

    @k.g.parthasarathy

    Don’t you mean

    bouquet?

    Reply
  28. Mackenzie -  June 20, 2012 - 8:18 am

    Heat and Thunder are abstract nouns.

    You can’t touch heat or thunder.

    love peace kenz :)

    yes i do pay attention in lang. arts class LOL

    Reply
  29. AS -  June 20, 2012 - 6:42 am

    The Heat beat the Thunder. – 100%

    Reply
  30. Ted -  June 20, 2012 - 6:30 am

    As a Brit, I’d say “are”. Surely, however, “Heat” and “Thunder” are examples of synecdoche? i.e. they’re just short for “members of the Heat team”, in the same way we would say “Nice motor”, meaning “Nice car” – just a part being used to mean the whole? Of course I’m not saying British English is superior but we don’t suffer from this problem…:)

    Reply
  31. Shafqaat Bukhari -  June 20, 2012 - 5:58 am

    :)

    Reply
  32. marcos -  June 20, 2012 - 5:48 am

    Wrong spell bulls correct bull.

    Reply
  33. Mark -  June 20, 2012 - 2:04 am

    …unless the Thunder split them asunder.

    Reply
  34. Mark -  June 20, 2012 - 1:59 am

    Goodness gracious, great balls of fire. The Heat can’t be beat.

    Reply
  35. Yankiemog -  June 20, 2012 - 12:11 am

    There is only one ‘group’ and therefore it is ‘is’ (singular)
    The group contains graders and therefore they ‘are’ (plural)

    Reply
  36. Maurice Light -  June 19, 2012 - 10:45 pm

    This should pose no problem whatsoever for professional writers. Sports teams are both a team and a business entity. Thus: “The Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks…The Bulls are trouncing the Knicks.” That’s the team’s actions, therefore it’s plural. But if we are listing a roster of NBA teams, we would say correctly (although it sounds a little awkward) that, “The Chicago Bulls is on the list.” That’s the entity’s status, therefore it’s singular.

    Reply
  37. Danny -  June 19, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    Hey just watched the reffs GIVE the heat another playoff game as a basketball fan i say that really stinks!!! I say OKC give up go home you cant beat the reffs. Painful to watch and sad.

    Reply
  38. 1040-filer -  June 19, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    I think these vague or singular mascot TEAM names should be outlawed, outright. End of problem. Take the Stanford Cardinal….please.

    Reply
  39. Vince -  June 19, 2012 - 6:13 pm

    As long as the Heat beat the Thunder, I don’t care how you write it.

    Reply
  40. roger -  June 19, 2012 - 5:32 pm

    boys like girls

    Reply
  41. Ana Lesquives -  June 19, 2012 - 3:57 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder.

    Reply
  42. Nate -  June 19, 2012 - 3:51 pm

    Perhaps “Chicago” is always singular, but both “the Chicago Bulls” and just “the Bulls” can be either, because they can refer to any of three things: the collection of players, the team, or the franchise. If so, then “the Heat” and “the Thunder” can similarly be either singular or plural, depending on the usage.

    It sounds weird, but couldn’t I say “The Bulls is a team and the Heat is a team; the Bulls are players and the Heat are players?”

    Reply
  43. Nate -  June 19, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Here’s another complication; when the team is referred to by its city (or state), is it always treated as a singular noun?

    The Chicago Bulls *were* defeated in the first round.
    Chicago *was* defeated in the first round.

    I guess the implication is that “Chicago Bulls” refers to the team as a collection of individual players (“the players [they] were defeated”), whereas “Chicago” refers to the team as a single entity (“the team [it] was defeated”). It may be useful to have the ability to differentiate between these two distinct notions. This presents a problem, though; what if I wanted to start a conversation by referring to the team as a single entity? Starting a conversation with “Chicago is a well-coached team” is ambiguous, so would I say, “The Chicago Bulls is a well-coached team?”

    Reply
  44. Jonathan -  June 19, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    it depends how you are talking
    (pres. past of future)

    Reply
  45. Dean -  June 19, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    There is no exception. All group names are plural, and it’s right to say “The Water” are going to… etc, in contrast to: the water is… etc. It doesn’t matter what the name of the group is, or whatever. It’s non-standard English to use singular for a group. We don’t say, we is, or they is. We say: we are, and they are. It would be grammatically incorrect to say the ‘Oklahoma City Thunder is… etc’ and the ‘Miami heat is… etc’. Frankly, if you decapitalised both phrases, then you may use the article of ‘is’ because you are singularising the phrases to distinct events, unless you state otherwise.

    By default, you always use plurals for group names. Remember that.

    Reply
  46. DeniseAlexis -  June 19, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    I would go for both “The Heat beats Thunder” or “The Heat beat Thunder” depending on the form of the Tense that is needed to be used since they are mass nouns and should be followed with the be-verb “is” unless they are used with countable words. like “the members” or “the players.” It won’t make the statement simple but it will make it sound more specific.

    Reply
  47. Jay -  June 19, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    That is my favorite team after all.

    Reply
  48. Jay -  June 19, 2012 - 1:30 pm

    Did anyone forget about the Orlando Magic? They are another team with no “s”.

    Reply
  49. Mikeztarp -  June 19, 2012 - 1:02 pm

    That’s where you have to be smart as a writer. In the example above, you should say “The Heat beat the Thunder”, because it could be present or past tense, and you’re right wether “the Heat” and “the Thunder” are plurals or not.

    Reply
  50. tmt -  June 19, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    Collective nouns:
    The Heat (They) beat the Thunder.
    The Thunder (They) were beaten by the Heat.

    Reply
  51. mohamed -  June 19, 2012 - 11:48 am

    The heat is holding out for the Thunder overwhelming.”I think it is a singular

    Reply
  52. Alex Johnson -  June 19, 2012 - 9:59 am

    @The grammar nazi:

    “Waters” is a word. “Flood waters” and “troubled waters” are absolutely correct usages of this word.

    “Waters” refers to the uncountable bits of water that share a common holding body/property – like the waters of the ocean, or, as you mentioned, flood waters.

    See the dictionary excerpt below:

    “World English Dictionary
    waters

    — pl n
    1. any body of sea, or seas regarded as sharing some common quality: Irish territorial waters ; uncharted tropical waters
    2. ( sometimes singular ) physiol the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in the womb”

    Reply
  53. coldbear -  June 19, 2012 - 9:59 am

    Here’s a wrinkle in your stocking:
    Heat is ” a preliminary eliminating contest in a competition” (thanks Dictionary.com), which is a single noun.

    So I guess it could make it “The Heat beats the Thunder”.

    Reply
  54. Alex Johnson -  June 19, 2012 - 9:46 am

    There is actually only one correct answer. It’s very simple. First, these are proper nouns, not just normal words. They (Heat and Thunder) are different from the normal non-proper nouns, heat and thunder (which would always be singular).

    In this instance, because the terms “Heat” and “Thunder” have a specific reference to a group of individuals in the plural, using “are” and “they” is the only correct solution. When in doubt, replace the word with an equivalent to figure out the appropriate usage – here, another proper noun that represents a collection of individuals on a team (Celtics, Lakers). The distinction here is that these terms (Heat and Thunder) do not refer to the team, they refer to the players. Saying “Miami” or “Oklahoma City” would be reference to the singular unit of the “team.”

    Of course, this is presuming you’re using it as a noun, not an adjective (in which case it’s singular). Again, put in an equivalent proper noun term – “the Laker fan base”.

    Reply
  55. Alan -  June 19, 2012 - 9:21 am

    It is a best of seven games series. I am holding out for the Thunder overwhelming the Heat. This statement may or may not be grammatically correct but I have to go with my heart regarding the outcome. I hope some of you are smiling.

    Reply
  56. fabgirl -  June 19, 2012 - 9:21 am

    I think it sounds better plural.

    Reply
  57. ernie leyva -  June 19, 2012 - 9:08 am

    the thunder beat the heat or the thunder beats the heat would be find with me. but the thunder has to beat the heat for me to say or write that tho’.

    Reply
  58. JEB -  June 19, 2012 - 9:01 am

    Use a singular verb if you are talking about the team as a whole. It does not matter if the team name ends with an S or not. Plural verb if you are talking about multiple individuals’ actions. So, “LakerS beats BullS” and “Heat beats Thunder” would both be correct. “Thunder wear black band to morn fallen teammate,” to show individual playerS on the team doing something.

    Reply
  59. ef -  June 19, 2012 - 8:56 am

    I think the word “finals” in the title should be capitalized, as it is a trademark, according to AP standards.

    Reply
  60. Joana Bulatao -  June 19, 2012 - 8:53 am

    In this case, the “Heat” is “collective” where in we must use Singular verb, referring to the group as a whole. When we use the “Heats” we are referring specifically to every member, it becomes plural. Either, I think its okay to use for variation.

    It will be a okay to rename Miami Heats / Oklahoma Thunders BUT PLEASE NOT Chicago Bull or LA Laker!!! =)

    Reply
  61. John V Kelley -  June 19, 2012 - 8:38 am

    Woe is I.

    Reply
  62. Geebee -  June 19, 2012 - 8:37 am

    It doesn’t matter if the team name is a word that is plural or not. They could be called The Nets or The Net, even though there are many players on the team the team itself is one entity.

    Reply
  63. O SHET. -  June 19, 2012 - 8:26 am

    The Thunder lost to the Heat.

    (Its gonna be true too ;)

    Reply
  64. ArtieThur -  June 19, 2012 - 8:26 am

    I think it would be more correct to say, “The Thunder Beats The Heat.” (…pending results of Game 4…)

    Reply
  65. O SHET. -  June 19, 2012 - 8:25 am

    The Heat beat the Thunder.

    [I know it will happen too, Miami Heat is better ;) ]

    Reply
  66. Chad -  June 19, 2012 - 8:14 am

    Actually, if we refer to several tiers of competitions used to identify the winners, who then compete in a larger competition, then we have several heats of qualifiers.
    Pardon the clumsiness. Just trying to remain concise.

    Reply
  67. Catey -  June 19, 2012 - 7:25 am

    The Heat beats The Thunder… because “The Heat” is a group, therefore, it suggests singularity, eventhough there are lots of members under group.

    Reply
  68. J -  June 19, 2012 - 7:23 am

    Teams are a single entity, therefor treat them as singular, not plural…duh

    Reply
  69. Lori -  June 19, 2012 - 7:17 am

    The Heat beats the Thunder.

    Reply
  70. HEAT THUNDER | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  June 19, 2012 - 6:53 am

    [...] {Heat/Thunder} Balls — or Blue when recounted, — Not dealt with presently go rightly. — Otherwise costing Breakfast at Some Tiffany Lamp to Boot out Holly Go Lightly. — Obstacles surmounted. — The Low ball joke and the high brow reference — and nothing to do with Mass grouping. — Beat the Heat with the Thunder or deference: — Beat Thunder with the Heat — no matter to us — whatever — somewhat, someone’s significant occurrence. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

    Reply
  71. Karl -  June 19, 2012 - 6:38 am

    I predict that the mass nouns will themselves come to be pluralized, e.g. “the Heats beat the Thunders”, “several Miami Heats were arrested after an altercation in a local bar”, etc. “Beer” is also a mass noun but that’s never stopped anyone from ordering a couple of beers. It’s a natural development when we are implicitly concerned with the individual parts of a mass.

    Reply
  72. Bumm -  June 19, 2012 - 6:24 am

    HEAT goin to smash the ThhUndEr Boom it will go when the lose.

    Reply
  73. Cocktailsfor2 -  June 19, 2012 - 4:04 am

    @dfcn: Way to add to the discussion.

    Reply
  74. Cocktailsfor2 -  June 19, 2012 - 4:02 am

    Well, for me, I ~LOATHE~ team names that lack an “s.”

    “I’m a Pirates – I play for the Pirates.” YES.

    “I’m a Heat – I play for the Heat.” NO..

    GAH.

    Reply
  75. g -  June 19, 2012 - 3:54 am

    balls to this

    Reply
  76. k.g.parthasarathy -  June 19, 2012 - 3:26 am

    a bouguet is a bunch of flowers, but called in singular verb. So a team. a class should be singular.

    Reply
  77. Ian -  June 19, 2012 - 3:02 am

    Why not just refer to the teams as Miami and Oklahoma?
    Problem solved.

    Reply
  78. Wesley -  June 19, 2012 - 1:32 am

    You treat the name the same as you would use the word under any other circumstance. Such as, “the Thunder had a tough time making baskets.” Now I have heard people refer to a Lakers player as a Laker. The Staple Center, where The Lakers play is sometimes erroneously called the Staple(s) Center. I think that the English language may have its rules, but it also is largely dictated by what is obvious to a conscientious and proficient user. We Americans are simply no longer a literary people.

    Reply
  79. Nic -  June 19, 2012 - 1:28 am

    in response to Carolyn:

    Which brings up another point – what’s “a Laker”? Is it a person who lives by the lake? Or someone who likes lakes? And what about a 76-er, a 49-er (football, i know), or a Pacer?!

    I know why these teams are called that (Minnesota’s lakes/SF gold rush, etc), so i’m not asking about the origin or history of the terms – but I’m asking purely psychologically – if the Charlotte Bobcats would have us believe that each player is a bobcat, or that the entire Miami team is “hot”, then what are we supposed to envisage, i mean in our mind’s eye, that a 76-er is? or a Net? or a Knick (a pair of pants?! surely not!)

    Reply
  80. Rustgold -  June 19, 2012 - 12:07 am

    Or just reword the entire sentence.

    “Miama Heat defeated Oklamona City next night…”

    Anyway, as a team it’s singular.

    Reply
  81. Michael -  June 18, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    Ah, me. . . English teachers lead such exciting lives~!

    Reply
  82. Austin -  June 18, 2012 - 9:25 pm

    Say “The Heat team beat the Thunder team.”

    Reply
  83. Tupah AT -  June 18, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    I’d like to correct my previous statement. I am a NON native-speaker of the English language. :)

    Reply
  84. al -  June 18, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder because it will be past tense when the news report is released

    Reply
  85. Tupah AT -  June 18, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    Why not just follow the British English rule so that the differences between these two English languages are becoming less? For NON native-speaker of English like myself the less the differences the better, correct? :)

    Reply
  86. Tupah AT -  June 18, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    Why not just follow the British English rule so that the differences between these two English languages are becoming less? For native-speaker of English like myself the less the differences the better, correct? :)

    Reply
  87. adsense wordpress theme -  June 18, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    The British tend to use plural verbs in such cases: “The Royal Family are…” “The Heat beat the Thunder” sounds like past tense (which it should be if the game has ended).

    Reply
  88. FLASH -  June 18, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    Oops. That “of” should be an “or” and there should be a comma between the two “is”s

    Reply
  89. FLASH -  June 18, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Actually, when you are referring to a team as a collective, then it is a singular noun. If their name is a plural, however, then you would use the plural form of the verb. What you have to realize is is the name a collective of single?

    Reply
  90. Coolbuck -  June 18, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    I agree with the Rachel: the Heat beat the Thunder.

    Reply
  91. An Old Black Marble.com -  June 18, 2012 - 6:28 pm

    This is an interesting issue for the English language that many other languages don’t have. When I learned English this did pose a problem, especially for my father, who one day looking for tooth brushes in a grocery store asked a passing by woman if she knew where the “teeths” brushes were. As far as my father was concerned all English words are singular until you add an (s) to the end. Let’s just say that the woman was shocked at first but noticing his accent realized that there might be a miscommunication there.

    Reply
  92. mason -  June 18, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    Interesting…but, in terms of pronunciation, what of the team called Celtics. The name is usually pronunced with the “c” as an “s” sound. But, if we are talking about the ancient people, we can only use the “k” sound (“keltics”). So why do we call the basketball “Saltics” and not “Kaltics”??

    Reply
  93. LiSL -  June 18, 2012 - 6:02 pm

    How about the Heat WILL beat the Thunder? ;)

    Reply
  94. Chris -  June 18, 2012 - 5:53 pm

    In the US, group nouns are singular. A crowd, like a team, is made up of many people. In the UK they say “The crowd are ….”, and in the US, “The crowd is ….”) So if everyone has been wrong all this time by not saying “The Bulls is ….”, what’s the issue with being “wrong” now?

    Reply
  95. Joel -  June 18, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder. It only makes sense to treat these names the same way you treat any other team name, who cares if it doesn’t end with an “s.”

    Reply
  96. Olivia -  June 18, 2012 - 5:44 pm

    The Heat beats the Thunder sounds better, It is One United team after all.

    Reply
  97. Andrew3 -  June 18, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder! OH NO!

    Reply
  98. gustave -  June 18, 2012 - 5:00 pm

    The Thunder beat the Heat. Collective nouns beget plural verbs. It’s just common sense. Now my head are hurting from thinking too much; not to mention my fingers is getting cramped from all the typing. Thanks, Dictionary.com!

    Reply
  99. The grammar nazi -  June 18, 2012 - 4:39 pm

    Yeah, the same thing goes for the word “waters”, which actually is not a word. It drives me nuts when I hear a weather man talk about “flood waters”, or hear someone say “troubled waters”, and such. I like to ask them, “how many flood waters were there”?

    Reply
  100. Devin -  June 18, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    The Heat and the Thunder should be plural, just as other basketball teams like the Bulls are treated as being plural even though grammatically they are not. Even though the name “Bulls” is plural, it still refers to a single team. For instance, if two imaginary cities named Rocks and Papers had basketball teams, and Rocks won a game, the headline would be: “Rocks beats Papers.” So, if we’re going to be grammatically correct, then I’d imagine all teams should be “Xs beats Ys,” but since that hasn’t been the case with every team besides the “mass noun” teams, I think we should just keep it as “Xs beat Ys,” or in the case of the Thunder, “The Thunder beat the Heat.”

    Reply
  101. ric -  June 18, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    Must be nice having a job as a sports writer and making that six figure salary. Shut up.

    Reply
  102. Brent -  June 18, 2012 - 3:24 pm

    You are all wrong! It is only correct to say “The Thunder am beating the lightening out of the Heat!”

    Reply
  103. Mackenzie -  June 18, 2012 - 2:56 pm

    Heat and Thunder are ABSTRACT NOUNS. you can’t touch them…..(no you can’t touch heat)

    HEAT HEAT HEAT HEAT heat rox…!!!!!! :) lol

    i am very weird

    love peace kenz :)

    Reply
  104. Alex -  June 18, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    “The Heat beat the Thunder” is past tense.

    “The Heat beats the Thunder” is present tense.

    Neither usage has anything to do with plural or singular forms.

    Reply
  105. Rachel -  June 18, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder.

    Reply
  106. dfcn -  June 18, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    who cares

    Reply
  107. mucho -  June 18, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    The Heat beat the Thunder.

    Reply
  108. Carolyn -  June 18, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    In my opinion, team names like the Heat and the Thunder should be treated as singular nouns because they are each referring to a group, whereas names like the Lakers and the Celtics sound like they are referring to the individuals within the group.

    Reply
  109. Marcus -  June 18, 2012 - 1:31 pm

    I think the correct way to express it is “The Heat beat the Thunder” and vice versa. They’re both singular; the Heat is one team and the Thunder is another team. If you want to describe the players on the team use a cop out like “members of the Heat” or “the Thunder players.”

    Reply
  110. wafflez -  June 18, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    This is kind of interesting. Same goes for “fire”, “food”, and “dirt”.

    Reply
  111. George -  June 18, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    The British tend to use plural verbs in such cases: “The Royal Family are…” “The Heat beat the Thunder” sounds like past tense (which it should be if the game has ended).

    Reply
  112. ZNC -  June 18, 2012 - 1:21 pm

    Oh… disappointing from my go-to online dictionary. If we were to ask a psychiatrist about the day’s patients, he might remark that “a couple is coming a bit later,” meaning of course a (married/dating) “couple”; but he might also remark that “a couple are coming a bit later,” meaning of course two separate people. No one, except if s/he has read too many stultifying books about grammar, would ever confuse his meaning — he can and should say “are” in the second case not because of the word that serves as subject but because of the concept that serves as agent; that is, two people acting separately (rather different than the case of “water”.) So please, go ahead and say “Heat are,” etc. whenever if it just feels right; cognitive approaches to language, to say nothing of common sense, will have your back.

    Reply
  113. kevin -  June 18, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    “the heat beat the thunder”
    it would be past tense, so this is not really an issue.

    Reply
  114. OfficialJanJan -  June 18, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    The Heat beats the Thunder.

    Reply
  115. KAREEM -  June 18, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    “The Heat beats the Thunder”, I say because we are speaking in terms of a group that would take a singular verb. :)

    Reply
  116. Phil Simon  (@philsimon) -  June 18, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    I’d say The Heat is (insert verb) or members of The Heat are (ditto). Most people (and even some authors) make this mistake, though.

    Reply
  117. guest -  June 18, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    How is this even an issue? If the team names are causing a “grammatical nightmare” for DeadSpin, then DeadSpin needs to hire better writers and editors.

    Reply
  118. Mr. Robinson -  June 18, 2012 - 12:21 pm

    Yes?

    Hahaha…I think that treating those teams as a singular noun would work best. My students get tripped up by this all the time. It’s sad.

    Reply
  119. Chris Hampson -  June 18, 2012 - 12:21 pm

    We should use the singular forms. The fact that a team is composed of many players is not grammatically relevant enough to override the convention for mass nouns.

    So “The Heat is trouncing the Bulls,” but “The Bulls are trouncing the Heat.”

    Reply
  120. Ben -  June 18, 2012 - 12:08 pm

    It’s also worth noting that this is a regional issue. In the UK, sports teams are often treated as plural nouns for conjugation purposes. i.e. Manchester United are, Tottenham Hotspur are, etc.

    Reply

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