The Ultimate Guide To Collective Nouns

Typically, the English language uses the plural forms of nouns to represent or identify more than one thing, place, or person. For instance, the plural of one “cat” becomes many “cats.” However, collective nouns are an exception of all these.

These nouns are unique classes of nouns that are used to denote a group thing, place, animal, objects, ideas, or concepts. With the use of these collective nouns, these objects, places, things, concepts, and ideas are represented as a single entity. Collective nouns can either be plural or singular.

Whenever you qualify a group of something like a single unit, collective nouns are used singularly. This, however, affects the verbs and determining words that flow with the noun as well as the pronoun. Indeed, all collective nouns are usually treated as singular in American English.

For instance,

  • The committee is working assiduously to organise all sporting activities before the end of this season
  • A hedge of bushes was planted to divide the lands.

We’ve revealed just two examples of collective nouns used as a singular form. In this piece, we’ll be explaining a few more examples. So, you’ll be able to know precisely what collective nouns are all about. Sit back and let’s get started.

Comparison Between Mass, Countable, And Collective Nouns

When it comes to discussing countable, mass, and collective nouns, things could begin to get more technical. So, let’s take a look at the concept of mass, countable, and collective nouns.

Mass Nouns

Mass nouns are the nouns that constitute the uncountable or non-count nouns. Their function in words and sentences is to identify an unbounded amount. For instance, words like liquids, abstracts, small objects, or other objects that could be outrightly immeasurable. Examples of these include “rice,” “water,” and “education.”

All these can be referred to as uncountable or non-count nouns because they cannot be counted in the real sense. Of course, we’ve said that a noun could be considered a mass noun when it is difficult to be counted, quantified, or modified in a relevant manner.

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are also referred to as count nouns. This is used to qualify or identify objects that can be counted. They can appear in both singular and plural forms. For instance, “three” puppies, “five hundred” dollars, and “a hundred” love notes.

Collective Nouns

In English language writing and grammar, collective nouns are a subset of countable nouns. This is because they are used to qualify or modify a group of countable nouns as a single collective unit. For instance, there are up to 50 eggs in a dozen. Another example is “there are 52 cards in a deck.”

Common Collective Nouns

In English language, there are numerous kinds of nouns that are used to refer to units or groups in a collective manner. Here we’ll be dealing with a few of the common examples:

  • Class of students
  • Crowd of fans
  • Choir of singers
  • Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences
  • Group of fans
  • Bunch of flowers
  • Board of directors
  • Board of examiners
  • Array of magazines
  • Jury of peers
  • Senate of the United States of America
  • Packets of salt
  • Galaxy of stars
  • Society of people
  • Deck of cards
  • Bunch of bananas
  • Batch of DVD’s
  • Band of brothers
  • Firm of lawyers
  • Box of chocolate
  • Cup of tea
  • Family of trees
  • Bowl of cereals
  • Committee of professionals
  • Team of workers

Collective Nouns For Groups Of Animals

Whenever a group of animals are acting or cohabiting as individuals rather than as a whole, the appropriate thing in English grammar is to either replace or add words to create references to the individuals. For instance, you might add words like “member” to collectives like “board of committee.” Otherwise, you can add “players” for collective nouns like “team.” The collective noun “student” can also be combined with “class.”

Here, we’ll be giving a few examples of unique collective nouns to identify or qualify a specific group of animals. Whether they are mammals, insects, or birds, they can fit in into the usage of collective nouns to qualify them as a single entity. Let’s take a brief look at a few examples:

  • Colony of ants
  • Droves of horses
  • Flight of doves
  • Gaggles of geese
  • Pride of lion
  • Flocks of sheep
  • Swarm of wasps
  • School of fish
  • Team of vipers
  • Troop of chimpanzees
  • Yoke of oxen
  • Nest of robins
  • Herds of elephants
  • Hive of bees
  • Clutter of cats
  • Parliament of owns
  • Unkindness of ravens
  • Horde of crows
  • Colony of rabbits
  • Stand of flamingos
  • Troop of monkeys
  • Bevy of doves
  • Sloth of bears
  • Flock of birds
  • Herds of cattle

How To Use Collective Nouns Correctly

Obviously, collective nouns can be used either in the plural or singular form. However, this solely depends on the context of the sentence. For instance, the word “family” is considered a typical example of a collective noun as it refers to the group of people sharing a relationship. However, this can also be expressed in its plural form to refer to several “families.”

The use of these nouns in sentences can be found confusing at some point. This is because of the difficulty of discerning, whether plural or singular verb or pronoun will fit in. In order to make use of pronouns and verbs correctly, you need to first identify or determine whether the noun in context is referring to a group as an individual or collectively in unison.

Whenever the unit in question is acting in unison, it would be appropriate to use the singular form. In another case where the members of the entity are acting as an individual entity, you can then use plural forms of pronouns and verbs.  

Usage Of Collective Nouns In Sentences

Consider the two examples below and determine whether the plural or singular forms are appropriate.

The entire class sat quietly to await the teacher.

In the above sentence, the word “class” refers to unison; the students are referred to as the class, and they are engaging in the same thing at the same time.

Let’s take a look at the second example:

The class began their assignments while waiting quietly for their teacher.

In this sentence, the word “class” refers to a unit and qualifies an individual. Each of those students are doing their assignments.

Final Note

The gradual change in word expressions has had a significant impact on the formation of this particular class of nouns known as the collective nouns. In order for you to remember better, you’ll need to learn continuously from a pool of online and printable worksheets, quizzes, and activities centred on the ultimate guide to collective nouns.