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Collective Nouns

Sep 1, 2022


A noun is a word that refers to a thing (apple/ bat), a person (Miss Smith / Kevin), an animal (cat), a place (Africa), a quality (warmness), an emotion (love, happiness), etc. 

Collective Nouns 

A collective noun is used as a name for a group or a collection of things. 

It represents a number of things (places, people or things) 

  • A group of mountains – Range 
  • A group of birds – flock 
  • A group of students – class 

It is treated as one group or singular even though it names more than one. 

  • The flock eats seeds. (Not eat) 
  • Our family lives together. (Not live) 
  • Our family waits together. (Not wait)  

My family is’ and ‘My family are’ 


If you think of your family as a single thing, then it is singular.  

  • My family is happy.  

If you consider your family a group of people, then it is plural. 

  • My family are happy.  
  • The team is playing / eating / leaving (Here the is a single unit/thing working together  
  • So, the verb is singular.) 
  • The team are arguing about how to win the game. (Here we are thinking about different players within the team. So, the verb is plural.) 
  • The family goes on a trip every year. (The family collectively / together takes a trip, so the verb is singular.) 
  • The family have differing plans about the annual trip. (The members in the family have differing ideas, so the verb is plural.) 

How to avoid confusion 

If you find a singular verb with a collective noun distracting, then do this.: 

  • The team members are in disagreement about how to paint the mural. 
  • The family members have differing ideas about the annual trip. (Add members to specify different individuals) 

Additional Points 

The words ‘a’ and ‘an’ comes before collective nouns 

The collective nouns are followed by ‘of’ and a noun telling who or what belongs to the group. 

  • An army of soldiers. 
  • A family of four. 
  • A fleet of aeroplanes. 
  • A bouquet of flowers. 


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