Collective Noun – Examples & Rules

Nouns are a basic part of English grammar. Nouns are simply words used to refer to various things. It seems quite simple. However, there are several classifications of nouns that can sometimes get tricky.

One among them is a collective noun. Many people tend to confuse what is a collective noun. Whether it is a plural or a singular noun and how to use it.

Collective nouns generally refer to a group of something. Today, we will have a detailed discussion on collective nouns and their usage to avoid any complications.

What is a Collective Noun?

In a simple sense, a collective noun is a phrase that is used to refer to a group of something. But in a collective noun, the referred group is treated as a single entity. In short, it is a noun that represents a group of people or things as a whole.

For example;

  • A group has arrived.

Here, we say “group,” which means a collective number of people. It is to note that here the collective noun is used in a singular form, although it represents plural things.

Let us look at some more examples;

  • The team is preparing for their finals.
  • I heard your class is in complete chaos.
  • The crowd is creating a mess right now.

Collective nouns: it can be both singular and plural

In the above examples, we understood that collective nouns are treated as singular, although it is used to represent plural things. Generally, collective nouns are singular nouns that we use to indicate plural things. However, it is important to realize that collective nouns can be plural in nature as well. Collective nouns can be both plural and singular, depending on the situation.

Let us understand with examples;

  • The team is getting ready.
  • All the teams are getting ready.

Now, very carefully, we need to notice that in the first sentence, we are using a collective noun, “team,” which is singular, and in the second sentence, we are using “teams,” which is plural. A team will refer to only one team. And teams refer to two or more of them, which means it is a plural collective noun.

So, we see collective nouns can be both with specific changes.

Usage of collective nouns

Collective nouns can be used in any type of sentence as long as one tries to indicate a group of something. It can be things, people, or animals. But while using a collective noun, it is very important to take into account the subject-verb agreement.

If we are using a singular collective noun, then the collective noun should be treated like a singular noun using singular verbs. And if we are using a plural collective noun, changes should be made exactly how it is with plural nouns.

For example;

Singular collective noun:

  • The third team is coming this way.
  • The audience is ready.

Plural collective noun:

  • No teams are allowed to wear jeans.
  • All the classes are required to leave the ground.

Some other commonly used collective nouns;

  • A group of people
  • A team of players
  • A gang of musician
  • A pack of cards
  • A flock of sheep
  • A galaxy of stars

So we see collective nouns are simply the representation of a group of people or things. But one should be very careful when using a collective noun to avoid errors.

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