What is the plural of staff?
Reader’s question: Which is correct: staff or staffs when referring to people?
Answer: The correct word is staff if you are referring to a group of people within an organisation.
You can use the plural staffs to refer to more than one body of staff. Pam Peters gives the following example in The Cambridge Guide to Modern Usage:
their respective embassy staffs
Pam Peters points out that the use of staff as a collective noun creates the need for a word to describe an individual member of staff. Words commonly used are employee or staffer.
You can also use staffs as a third-person singular verb meaning ‘to work or operate’.
She staffs the shop every Monday.
Singular or plural verb
Staff is a collective noun and can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the context.
Treat a collective noun as singular if it refers to a single entity and plural if it refers to a number of individuals.
The family (single unit) is united in its disapproval.
The staff (several individuals) are giving each other presents.
Often you can get around this problem by changing the word. For example, instead of using staff, you could say employees or our people.
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