“Family Was” or “Family Were” – Correct Version (With Examples)

“Family” is a collective noun. For this reason, there are some interesting rules that we have to consider before deciding whether “was” or “were” are the correct verb forms. This article will explain everything you need to know about it.

Is It “Family Was” Or “Family Were”?

Although “family” refers to multiple people, we almost always use it in the singular form. It is a collective noun, meaning that “family was” is the best choice when writing it. We can only use “family were” when we split the members up within the family further.

family was or were

For the most part, saying “my family” means you are grouping your family into one entity.

You might find more common phrases like “the people in my family” works best if you want to use the plural form. “The people in” is a good way to separate all the people within your family, which makes “were” the more probable choice after writing it.

When Should I Use “Family Was”?

“Family was” is the most common way to see “was” used with “family.” This works because we treat “family” as a single unit no matter how many people are a part of that family. “Family” is always a group of people, and we should use the singular “was” to highlight this.

  1. The family was going to see the movie together, but they didn’t find the time.
  2. My family was here a second again. Did you see where they went off to?
  3. His family was fun to be around. I wish I could still talk to them.
  4. Her family was the best. I wanted to stay in touch, but I think it would have been too awkward.
  5. My family was certain they had it right. Alas, it looks like they were wrong.
  6. This family was a nightmare to be around. I’m so glad I don’t have to talk to them again.
  7. Your family was wrong. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

When Should I Use “Family Were”?

“Family were” is best when we want to split the people within the family up. If we want to treat certain people as individuals rather than referring to the family as a group of people, “were” might be the better choice.

  1. The people in the family were having a hard time trying to figure it out.
  2. You and your family were only going along for the ride, right?
  3. All the girls in the family were going on a trip. It was time for the guys to have some fun too.
  4. You and your family were in the wrong. I wish you could see that and apologize for what you said.
  5. He and his family were struggling financially. I had to step in to help them out.
  6. The people in your family were causing problems. We had to escort them out.
  7. All of the people in the family were having fun. I get that, but I couldn’t allow them to hang about.

Is “Family Was” Or “Family Were” Used The Most?

Let’s check out some statistics to see which of the two is more popular. You might already have a good idea about this.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “family was” is used the most. This makes it clear that “family” is a singular unit, and we use “was” because it’s a singular verb form that refers to “family” as one thing.

family was or family were english usage

While “was” is the best choice, that doesn’t mean “were” is wrong. We can still see it works, according to the graph.

Is It “My Family And I Was” Or “My Family And I Were”?

“My family and I were” is correct because we are using two entities. “My family” is a single unit, and “I” is a single person. Therefore, we are talking about two things, and we must always use the plural form “were” whenever we do this.

  • Correct: My family and I were not on talking terms for a good while.
  • Incorrect: My family and I was having a go at each other before this.

Is It “Our Family Was” Or “Our Family Were”?

“Our family was” is correct when we start a sentence with it or when we treat “family” as a single unit. It’s more common when used in this way. “Our family were” is correct when we split the people in the family into separate, singular units.

  • Our family was unsure whether they could come in today.
  • The people in our family were having an argument again.

Is It “Her Family Was” Or “Her Family Were”?

“Her family was” makes the most sense in many cases. Again, we are treating “her family” as one unit, so we should always use the singular “was.” “Her family were” only applies if we are talking about specific people within “her family.”

  • Her family was broke for the longest time. I’m glad they turned it around.
  • I think the people in her family were helping each other more than they realized.

Is It “The Whole Family Was” Or “The Whole Family Were”?

“The whole family” is a single unit in most cases. We use “was” with a single unit for a collective noun to treat it as a single entity. “The whole family were” is uncommon. It can be used in the same way as above when we treat the members individually.

  • The whole family was planning on coming, but nobody showed up in the end.
  • All of the guys from the whole family were here. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Should I Use “Family Was” Or “Family Were” In American English?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “family was” is by far the best choice in American English. You should use “family” as a singular word in most cases to show that you understand the rule of the collective noun.

family was or family were American English

Should I Use “Family Was” Or “Family Were” In British English?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “family was” is also the most popular choice in British English. However, this graph makes it seem like you can use “family were” to a greater effect if you’re writing in British English since it’s more common.

family was or family were British English

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“Family Was” or “Family Were” – Correct Version (With Examples)