What Are Collective Nouns?
Collective nouns are nouns that refer to a group or collection of people, animals, or things considered as a single entity. They are used to describe a group of individuals or things that are acting together as a unit.
Why Do We Use Collective Nouns?
Collective nouns are used to refer to a group of people, animals, or things, either *as a single entity or as individuals within the group.
- things: galaxy, forest, stack, wad, etc.
- animals: pack, flock, haul, flight, etc.
- people: class, band, choir, army, etc.
Check out the examples:
How to Use Collective Nouns
Collective nouns do not follow a specific rule, as they are individual words. However, it is important to keep in mind that collective nouns may stand alone or be followed by a prepositional phrase.
In this example, the collective noun 'class' is used alone as the subject of the sentence.
He ate a
In this example, the term 'bowl' is a collective noun that is followed by the prepositional phrase 'of rice.'
Countable and Uncountable Collective Nouns
Collective nouns refer to a group as a whole, so they cannot be categorized as countable or uncountable. However, they can be used with both singular and plural meanings. Sometimes, collective nouns may take the plural form with 's' or 'es', but this typically refers to
These birds fly in huge
Singular or Plural Collective Nouns
Collective nouns can refer to a specific number of people or things in a group, or to the members of a group as individuals. When a collective noun refers to individual members of a group, it is considered singular. When it refers to a group as a single unit, it is considered plural. However, whether a collective noun is singular or plural, there is no change in its formation.
In this example, the collective noun 'crowd' is considered a plural noun since the speaker is referring to individuals.
The choir sing
In this example, the term 'choir' is considered singular.
Noun and Verb Agreement
Collective nouns like police, staff, and audience might include individual members or be looked at as a whole unit. For example, police can refer to one officer or it can refer to all police members as a unit. So, based on the intention of the speaker, they can either use a singular verb or a plural verb. If the speaker wants to refer to individuals they might use the plural verb, while a singular verb would be more appropriate for referring to the group as a whole.
Here, we can use both 'was' and 'were' based on whether the speaker means the staff as a whole or individuals.
Here, the speaker is talking about the entire staff and his whole group of employees as one unit.
Let us look at other examples:
Here 'family' is considered as one unit, therefore we're using a singular verb.
The panel of executives
Here the members of the panel are performing an action as individuals. In this case, all or some members of the group are doing something independently and the group is not acting together as a unit.
Mostly, collective nouns are considered singular in American English. Since there is not any plural 's' at the end of collective nouns, they are commonly used as singular nouns.
In this case, we use singular verbs with them, which is called 'formal agreement' in English Grammar.
Occasionally, a collective noun is considered plural because the speaker or writer is referring to the members of a group as individuals, rather than as a unified whole. In these cases, a plural verb is used with the collective noun, even though it may seem singular. This is known as notional agreement.
British or American?
Deciding which form of the verb to use with collective nouns can be challenging, even for native English speakers. Generally, in the United States and Canada, it is more common to use the singular verb form, while in the UK, the plural form is more commonly used.
If we want to be specific and clearly indicate that we are talking about individual members or officers of a collective noun group, we can add words like 'member' or 'officer.' This makes it clear that a plural verb should be used.
It is clarified that we are pointing to more than one.
Proper Collective Nouns
Proper collective nouns are typically paired with singular verbs, unless they are explicitly plural in form. Here are some examples.
Sometimes, proper collective nouns may seem to be 'plural,' but in fact, they are considered singular collective nouns. Check out the example:
Partitives vs. Collective Nouns
partitive nouns and collective nouns are distinct in their meanings. Partitive nouns indicate a specific amount or portion of a particular noun, and do not necessarily refer to the entire group. Collective nouns, on the other hand, refer to a group as a whole or as individuals, without indicating a specific number or amount. Another difference is that partitive nouns can take a plural form with 's' or 'es', while collective nouns typically do not.Here are some examples:
I used two
Singular Collective Nouns and Pronouns
When a collective noun is used with a singular meaning, the pronoun 'it' is typically used to refer to the collective noun. However, when the gender of the group members or the group is unknown or unspecified, the gender-neutral singular pronoun 'they' can also be used. Check out the examples:
I enjoyed teaching the
In this example, since the lessons were taught online the teacher couldn't guess the gender.
Whenever we are talking about a group of people whether the whole group or only an individual, we should use collective nouns, such as:
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Proper and Common Nouns
Did you know there are two kinds of noun: common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns refer to general nouns and proper nouns refer to specific nouns.
Singular and Plural Nouns
Anything that is just one in quantity is singular. But what if there is more than one? Nouns that are two or more are called plurals! Simple, yes? Let's see!
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
It's important to know if a noun is countable or uncountable. This is going to help us to use the correct article. Let's learn more.
Possessive structures have many functions like showing ownership or belonging. With the help of apostrophe 's', we can make a possessive noun. Let's start!
Gerunds are words derived from verbs that act as nouns. All gerunds include a verb and -ing. In this lesson, we will learn more about them.