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Collective Nouns—Definition and Most Well-liked Examples

Everybody in all probability is aware of {that a} group of cows is known as a herd and maybe {that a} group of lions is known as a satisfaction, however do you know {that a} group of otters is usually known as a raft? Or {that a} group of swans may be known as a wedge—however solely after they’re flying?

These phrases for congregated animals are examples of collective nouns: nouns that seek advice from teams or collections. There are round 200 collective nouns within the English language.

What’s a collective noun?

A collective noun is a frequent noun that names a gaggle of individuals, creatures, or objects:

The viewers on the midafternoon exhibiting was particularly appreciative of the comedic elements of the film.

Visitors on the highway was briefly stopped by a flock of untamed turkeys that was making its approach throughout.

Paleontologists discovered a set of fossils in Argentina from the bones of an Achillesaurus or a carefully associated species.

Are collective nouns singular or plural?

Though they seek advice from a number of issues directly by definition, collective nouns are singular in kind. This could make selecting the best verb to make use of with a collective noun when it’s the topic of a sentence or clause (that’s, sustaining subject-verb settlement) a bit difficult—it’s virtually like they’re plural and singular on the identical time!

In American English, collective nouns as a rule seem with singular verbs:

The movie pageant’s choice committee consists of filmmakers, movie programmers, and critics.

Residents of the city mentioned a drove of pigs that had escaped from a neighborhood farm was destroying their yards and gardens.

Nonetheless, it’s additionally appropriate—and fairly frequent—to deal with a collective noun as plural when what’s being communicated is that the members or elements of a gaggle are appearing individually reasonably than as a unit:

My household principally have their birthdays within the fall and winter.

The choir had been all warming up in numerous keys.

Among the many pupil physique, the majority are Californians.

In British English, it’s much more frequent to deal with collective nouns as plural:

The band had been on tour all summer season.

It appeared just like the workers had been at all times taking their lunch break once we stopped by the store.

3 recommendations on the best way to use collective nouns

As we’ve seen, protecting collective nouns in settlement with the verbs they seem alongside may be difficult. When you’ve mastered that, collective nouns are easy to make use of in your writing. Listed here are a couple of extra ideas that will help you alongside.

Lean towards singular

A superb rule of thumb for utilizing collective nouns in American English is to err on the aspect of treating them as singular. In different phrases, except there’s a compelling argument for making them plural—as within the examples within the previous part, wherein the emphasis is on the person members of the group—it’s at all times applicable to make use of a singular verb with them.

The membership meets each Wednesday after college.

The pod of dolphins was approaching the ship.

Be aware that there are a couple of exceptions to this rule of thumb, such because the collective noun police, which at all times takes a plural verb.

The police had been already there once we arrived on the scene.

Make the topic plural

If you’re scuffling with a sentence as a result of a specific collective noun / plural verb mixture sounds awkward to your ear, one choice is to show the collective noun right into a extra easy plural by including “members of” or related. Evaluate the 2 examples beneath. Within the first, the collective noun jury is the topic. Within the second, the plural noun members has turn out to be the topic. Each sentences are grammatically appropriate, however within the second, no reader will journey on or query the usage of the plural noun had been.

The jury had been staying in lodge rooms whereas they had been sequestered.

The members of the jury had been staying in lodge rooms whereas they had been sequestered.

Be constant

If you determine whether or not to deal with a collective noun as a singular or a plural, ensure you’re constant about its quantity all through any part of writing that it seems in. For instance, in the event you use a pronoun to refer again to the collective noun, it also needs to agree with the collective noun and the verb in quantity.

The firm is doing very nicely this quarter. It has recouped most of its losses from final winter.

The group of passengers will scatter as quickly as they disembark.

Examples of collective nouns

Many collective nouns—akin to group, bunch, couple, and pair—are normal sufficient or versatile sufficient that they are often utilized to individuals, animals, or objects.

A bunch of my coworkers are going to that live performance.

Sam picked up a bunch of magazines earlier than getting on their flight.

Different collective nouns are extra particular in what they seek advice from.

Frequent collective nouns for individuals

  • military
  • viewers
  • band
  • board
  • solid
  • choir
  • class
  • membership
  • coalition
  • committee
  • group
  • firm
  • congregation
  • company
  • council
  • crew
  • crowd
  • household
  • agency
  • gang
  • group
  • jury
  • majority
  • minority
  • mob
  • orchestra
  • panel
  • parliament
  • social gathering
  • public
  • college
  • workers
  • crew
  • troupe

Frequent collective nouns for objects

  • array
  • assortment
  • bouquet
  • caravan
  • assortment
  • constellation
  • fleet
  • forest
  • galaxy
  • heap
  • parcel
  • pile
  • vary
  • collection
  • set
  • bathe
  • stack
  • stream
  • wad

Frequent collective nouns for animals

  • brood
  • cloud
  • colony
  • flock
  • gaggle
  • herd
  • horde
  • litter
  • pack
  • satisfaction
  • college
  • shoal
  • swarm

Collective noun FAQs

What’s a collective noun?

A collective noun is a standard noun that names a gaggle of individuals, creatures, or objects.

What number of collective nouns exist in English?

There are round 200 collective nouns in English.

How are you aware whether or not a collective noun must be singular or plural?

Collective nouns are singular in kind however plural in which means. In American English, they’re often handled as singular and adopted by a singular verb. Nonetheless, lots of them may be handled as plural in contexts the place the emphasis is on the person members or elements of a gaggle reasonably than on the group as an entire. In British English, collective nouns are rather more steadily handled as plural.

How are you aware what pronoun to make use of to seek advice from a collective noun?

A pronoun that refers again to a collective noun ought to agree in quantity with that collective noun and, if the collective noun is appearing as the topic of a sentence or clause, with the verb.



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