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A collective noun is a word used to name a group of people, animals or things. It is singular in form even though it names anything which is two or more than two. They are sometimes called grouped nouns, as they represent a number or a collection of things.
What are Collective Nouns?
Collective nouns are words for single things that are made up of more than one person, animal, place, thing, or idea. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a collective noun is defined as “a noun such as ‘team’ or ‘flock’ that refers to a group of people or things”. Examples for collective nouns:
- A flock of Sheep
- A herd of Cows
- A fleet of Ships
- A convoy of Trucks
- A team of Football
Examples for Collective Nouns of Animals
Most of the main animal groups have their own collective nouns, and some of them can be quite bizarre.
- bees – Swarm
- kangaroos – Mob
- sheep – Herd
- ships – Fleet
- birds – Flock
- lions – Pride
- wolves – Pack
- ants – Colony
- parade – Elephant
- drove – Pig
- pod – Dolphin
- brace – Duck
Examples Of Collective Nouns Used For People
- actors – Troupe, Company or Cast
- musicians – Band
- warriors – Troop
- directors – Board
- sailors – Crew
- singers – Choir
- dancers – Group
- thieves – Pack
- players – Team
- delegates – Delegation
- judges – Panel or Bench
Examples Of Collective Nouns Used For Objects/Things
- cards – Deck/Pack
- cigarettes – Packet
- mountains – Range
- apples – Bushel
- bananas – Comb
- grapes – Bunch
- flowers – Bunch or Bouquet
- trees – Grove or Forest
Is a Collective Noun Singular or Plural?
Depending on the context a collective noun can be singular or plural.
If you see the individuals acting together, as a whole, then you probably treat the collective noun as Singular.
If you see the individuals acting individually, then you probably treat the collective noun as plural.
Singular Collective Nouns
A collective noun becomes singular if the given context describes a collection or group of people or things.
For Example : The Jury returns an unanimous verdict. Here the singular subject Jury requires the singular verb returns.
Plural Collective Nouns
A collective nouns becomes plural when the group it names is considered to be made up of individuals. Because members of the group can act on their own, the word is considered as plural.
For Example: The Jury often have different reactions to the evidence they hear. Here the plural subject Jury requires the plural verb have.
A Collective Noun Can Itself Be Singular and Plural
In most of the cases a collective noun can itself treated as plural. In other words, you can have more than one collective noun. For example, in a game of Cricket there are TWO teams.
Examples For Collective Nouns Treated As Singular
- The club was founded in 2003.
- The school reopens in September.
- The family next door is very quiet. We never hear them.
- CNN does like to blow its own trumpet.
- The board of directors uses this room for its meetings.
- Does Sony make mobile phones?
Examples For Collective Nouns Treated As Plural
- The club are currently displaying their best photos.
- The board of directors are eating sandwiches for their lunch.
- The school are preparing for their winter marathon..
- My family are always arguing. The neighbours often hear us.
- CNN do like to blow their own trumpet.
- Do Sony plan to make cars?
How To Use Collective Nouns In A Sentence
In this section we are giving some tips to how to use these nouns into your writing. Here’s a simple trick you can use to decide how to use collective nouns in sentences.
- Singular and plural:
It can be tricky to know whether a collective noun should be treated as singular or plural. Generally, collective nouns are treated as singular, but there might be instances where we want to refer to them as plural. Here are some examples:
The team was in high spirits after winning the game.
The crew were all working at their stations.
In this second example, the ‘crew’ is treated as plural. This is because, despite being a group of people, we can assume that it’s made up of individuals with their own individual jobs to do. In this case, it is acceptable to refer to the collective noun as plural.
- Avoid using the incorrect collective nouns:
Using an inappropriate collective noun is an easy trap to fall into, but it can affect how our writing looks to the reader. Here are some examples:
A flock of wolves.
A punnet of screwdrivers.
- Experiment with collective nouns:
At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment and try collective nouns in places they might not normally go. Sometimes, an unexpected use of a collective noun can add unique meaning to a sentence.
For instance, the correct collective noun for piranhas is a shoal. However, saying ‘a swarm of deadly piranhas’ still makes sense and can have a powerful impact in your writing.
Choose the collective nouns from the given sentences.
Keys, marbles, and rubber bands were just a few of the things in the pile of objects in his drawer.
A – marbles, B – things, C – pile
The boys decided to join the navy after graduation.
A – boys, B – navy, C – graduation
After the performance, all the actors joined hands and bowed toward the audience.
A – performance, B – actors, C – audience
The team celebrated heartily after scoring a winning goal.
A – team, B – winning, C – goal
Most of the students on the council are also on the honor roll.
A – students, B – council, C, – honor roll
The boat’s crew worked all night to stop the leak.
A – boat’s, B – crew, C – leak
The talent show featured several individual performers, along with three bands.
A – show, B – performers, C – bands
Our extended family includes great-grandparents and second cousins.
A – family, B – great-grandparents, C – cousins
All of the students are attending a school assembly on Friday.
A – students, B – school, C – assembly
The senate will be voting on three education funding bills tomorrow.
A – senate, B – bills, C – tomorrow