The rest of the staff is/are on leave sầu at the moment.
The rest of my family is/are arriving late.
I would use the singular (is) in both examples as we are referring one "staff" & one "family", even though they may consist of many people.
The same can be said for the nouns "team", "company", "organisation" etc.
NB: Edited after Peter"s comment
This is my opinion. Family và staff are collective sầu nouns. A collective sầu noun, as we know, may take a singular or plural verb depending on whether we see it as a unit or a collection of individuals. Therefore, if the rest of the family is moving as one, then we can say, "The rest of my family is arriving late" (this means the other members of the family are arriving together).
Fraser Orr is correct in saying that the subject is the word rest but the singularization or pluralization of the verb depends much on the specific noun that follows the abovementioned subeject. Take the following examples.The rest of the apples are rotten. The rest of the book was burned.
The use of this becomes confusing if the noun that follows is a collective sầu noun.
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edited Oct 10 "12 at 19:29
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Either singular or plural can be correct, especially in British giamcanherbalthin.com. The reason can be seen in two steps, involving two things which complicate subject-verb agreement: number-transparent nouns & collective sầu nouns (CGEL, pp. 501-504).
Let me remind you that the subject is always the whole noun phrase (NP), so in your first example, the subject is the NPhường the rest of the staff, and in your second example, the subject is the NP. the rest of my family. The question of whether you need the singular is or the plural are rest on whether the NPs the rest of the staff và the rest of my family are singular or plural.
First step: note that rest is a number-transparent noun (CGEL, p. 350). Consider the following examples with another number-transparent noun, lot:
<1>a. was done.b.were made.
In both <1a> and <1b>, the subject (in brackets) is a noun phrase (NP) whose head is lot. But the number of the NP.. (i.e. whether the NP is singular or plural) is determined not by the head, as is normally the case, but by the number of the oblique (i.e. by the number of the complement of the preposition of): a lot of work is singular because work is singular, & so we have sầu the singular verb was. And a lot of errors is plural because errors is plural, & so we have the plural verb were. Besides lot & rest, there are only several other clear examples of number-transparent nouns: lots, plenty, bags, heaps, loads, oodles, remainder, number, and couple (CGEL, p. 350). In the words of CGEL, a number-transparent noun allows the number of the oblique khổng lồ percolate up to lớn determine the number of the whole NP (CGEL, p. 349). In your examples, the staff & my family are the obliques, and they determine the number of the NPs the rest of the staff & the rest of my family.
So, because rest is number-transparent, the question of whether the rest of the staff is singular or plural reduces to lớn the question of whether the staff is singular or plural. Similarly for the rest of my family and my family. And now comes step two.
Second step: even though staff & family are singular, they are collective nouns, and as such they allow optional plural override. Here is an example (CGEL, p. 501):
Both <2a> and <2b> are acceptable, especially in British giamcanherbalthin.com (in American giamcanherbalthin.com, the plural override is less likely). According to CGEL (p. 502),
The optionality of the override with collectives reflects the fact that there is potentially a difference of meaning between the versions with singular & plural verbs. From one perspective a committee is a single entity, but since a committee (normally) consists of a plurality of members it can be conceptualised as denoting this plural phối. The construction with a plural verb focuses on the members of the committee rather than on the committee as a unit.
Besides committee, staff, và family, there are other clear examples of collective sầu singular nouns that allow optional plural override (with appropriate verbs), such as administration, army, board, class (in one of its meanings), clergy, crew, enemy, etc. A danh sách is given in CGEL, p. 503.
In short: in your examples, both the singular verb is & the plural verb are are acceptable. In the case of staff, if you use the plural, you are thinking of staff as a phối consisting of a plurality of members. True, staff is merely the oblique (the complement of of), và is not the head of the NP. which is the subject of the sentence; rather, rest is the head. But rest is number-transparent, and so the number of the whole NPhường is determined by the number of the oblique. And, as we said, the number of the oblique is, through the (optional) plural override, taken to be plural. In contrast, if you use the singular verb, you are thinking of staff as a single entity, & now it is this singular number that "percolates up" lớn determine the number of the whole NPhường. The case of family works just the same.