A collective noun identifies a single entity made up of a group of people, animals, places, things, or ideas. While there are multiple items within the group, the group itself is recognized as one unit.
Collective nouns can be singular or plural depending upon their use in a sentence.
Functioning as a single unit makes the collective noun singular and requires a singular verb and singular pronouns. When members of the group act as individuals, it becomes a plural collective noun and requires plural pronouns and a plural verb:
The faculty decided to move the assembly to next week.
The faculty acted as a group in making the decision. Therefore, “faculty” is classified as a singular collective noun.
Moving the assembly was so unnecessary that the faculty were shaking their heads in disapproval.
Since it would be unlikely that every faculty member was shaking their head in unison, they are now acting as individuals, making “faculty” a plural collective noun.
The following sentences provide examples of how and when to use singular versus plural nouns and the appropriate subject-verb agreement:
|Collective noun||Singular example||Plural example|
|Family||The family is flying to Europe over the summer.||The family members are taking different flights to Europe.|
|Herd||The herd is staying on the farmer’s property.||Parts of the herd are leaving the farmer’s property.|
|Bushel||The bushel is ripe enough to eat.||Most of the apples in the bushel are ripe enough to eat.|
While there are over 200 in the English language, the most common collective nouns include the following:
|Group of people||Group of animals||Group of things|
|army||bed of oysters||batch|
|audience||colony of ants||bunch|
|class||flock of birds||bundle|
|crowd||gaggle of geese||bushel|
|faculty||herd of cows||cluster|
|family||litter of kittens||fleet|
|gang||murder of crows||grove|
|group||pack of wolves||pack|
|jury||pride of lions||pile|
|squad||school of fish||set|
|team||swarm of bees||stack|
The following sentences use examples of collective nouns:
After working your way through this lesson and video, you have learned:
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