Collective Nouns With Rules And Examples

Think of the words team, group, or flock- these are examples of collective nouns. Collective nouns are particular kinds of nouns in English, where groups of people, things, or objects are treated like one single entity; they are no longer individuals.

There are over 150 collective nouns in English. Let’s dig into some common ones now.

examples of collective nouns

Common Collective Nouns: With Examples

Collective nouns can be split into sub-categories.

Here are some collective noun examples:

People

  • A jury 
  • A family 
  • A class of students
  • A company of board directors.
  • An army of soldiers
  • A body of people
  • A staff of employees 
  • A committee of concerned parents
  • A party of friends
  • A patrol of police 
  • Algeria formerly was a French colony 
  • A crew of flight attendants. 
  • The concert crowd was electric.
  • Senate of the U.S.A
  • Group of fans
  • Faculty Of The Arts 
  • Department 

Animal Groups 

  • A herd of sheep
  • A flock of rare birds 
  • A school of rainbow fish
  • A shoal of marine animals
  • The pool of dolphins is migrating.
  • Litter of kittens
  • The pandemonium of parrots. 
  • A colony of ants.
  • A swarm of insects
  • A gang of buffalos 
  • A brood of chickens 
  • A murder of crows
  • A pack of dogs
  • A team of ducks
  • A parade of Elephants
  • A gaggle of geese
  • A flamboyance of flamingos 
  • An army or colony of frogs

Other 

  • A collection of papers
  • A bunch of roses 
  • A crate of soda
  • A cup of coffee or tea 
  • A packet of cookies
  • A jar of peanut butter
  • A bunch or array of magazines
  • Value of money
  • A pack of cards
  • A pair of gloves
  • A bouquet of flowers
  • A galaxy of stars and constellations 
  • A fleet of ships
  • A range of mountains (mountain range)
  • A wad of dollars 
  • A string of beads
  • A chain of events
  • A schedule of activities

The above collective nouns are examples; there are many more to discover! Next time you learn a new noun, look if it’s a collective noun.

Collective nouns Vs. Common Nouns

Many collective nouns, such as ‘crowd,’ are common nouns, which is why many confuse the two.

Generally speaking, nouns can be split into two broad categories; Common nouns and proper nouns. Collective nouns, however, are a collected group of something, generally treated as one.


What Are The Main Differences?


Collective nouns: are usually treated as singular.

Common nouns: can be singular or plural.


Collective nouns: are a group of things treated like one entity.

Common nouns: used as individual units. 


Collective nouns: refer to groups made up of many things, people, or objects. 

Common nouns: refer to things, people, or objects in general.


Collective Nouns Vs. Proper Nouns

Like common nouns, collective nouns can also be proper nouns; however, there are a few key differences. Proper nouns that refer to companies, organizations, or names of companies can also be collective nouns. For example:

  • Microsoft 
  • Apple
  • Liverpool Football Club
  • Sony
  • The FBI

When we talk about these companies and organizations of hundreds or thousands of employees in some situations, they become one entity.

Collective nouns: Plural Vs. Singular with Examples

Every collective noun is made up of a group of people, objects, or things but is treated as one. Which makes many people wonder whether collective nouns are plural or singular.

Collective nouns can be singular or plural, depending on the situation and how each individual entity is seen within that group. 

Collective Nouns As A Singular Entity 

When we treat a collective noun as a singular entity, it’s because we see that particular group acting, thinking, or doing things the same way. Collective nouns are most commonly referred to as singular because we see the group as a whole.

In this case, we use singular verbs and singular pronouns to form a sentence with collective nouns.

Some collective noun examples:

  • The class is extremely excited today.
  • The class was waiting for their teacher to arrive. 
  • The pack of lions is waiting for its prey. 
  • The group of pencils is in the pot. 
  • The big band meets after school every day.
  • Our team trains together every day. 
  • The board of directors is in a meeting. 
  • The group of fans is waiting by the stage door. 
  • The crew is on the aircraft.
  • Wow! What a lovely bunch of flowers!

You will notice that we use singular linking verbs like ‘is’ and ‘was’ to make these sentences. This is because we treat each group as a whole, not as individuals.

Note: In British English, collective nouns are often referred to in the plural, with plural verbs and plural pronouns

Collective Nouns As A Plural Entity 

In American English, collective nouns are mostly treated like singular entities. However, collective nouns can sometimes be referred to in the plural, especially when you want to highlight individual actions within that group. 

Some collective noun examples are pluralized:

  • The jury all reached a different conclusion based on the evidence given.
  • The big band is all practicing their compositions.
  • The team has been working on their skills and strengths this season.
  • Microsoft employees each get a fair salary at the end of the month.
  • The class starts their exams today.
  • The pairs of shoes are each in their place. 
  • The shoal of fish is each going their own way.
  • The department heads are looking out for themselves.
  • Many students were unhappy with the feedback they received on their work.

Although treating collective nouns in the plural is not a common practice in American English, you can see that in some situations, you can use a plural pronoun with a singular verb. For example:

  • The shoal of fish is each going their own way.

The ‘is’ in this sentence is a singular linking verb; however, ‘their’ is a plural pronoun to indicate that the group of fish isn’t working together and each fish is acting on their own.

While you’re here, we’ve got a ton of other noun-related content for you to look at!

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