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    Collective Nouns: What Is It And How To Use It?

    Home / Blog / Collective Nouns: What Is It And How To Use It?

    Collective Nouns
     Admin  Published On Aug 6, 2021 | Updated on Aug 10, 2023  General

    Collective Nouns are the name you give for a group or collection of animals, people or things. You may usually use terms like a herd, array, flock or group to denote collective nouns. The more you explore collective nouns, divulge and collect more examples, and put them in the context, the better you understand how they work.

    What is a Collective Noun?

    Often unaware, you often come across collective nouns in your everyday speech. Collective nouns are the one-word answer to describe things made of one or more elements; they can be person, animal, place, thing, or even an idea. In short, you can't form a team without its independent members, even though you describe a team as a single identity. 

    Collective Noun: Examples

    If you describe nouns as the words or terms to name people, animals, peoples and objects, you may say collective nouns to define their class. Read the examples below to understand the collective nouns more easily. 

    • Our class went on a field trip to the animal history museum.
    • A caravan of camels was lying in the desert.
    • Everyone waited for the jury to declare their verdict.
    • This year's English Cricket team has seven batsmen, three of whom hail from Manchester.
    • Birds of a feather flock together.
    • The Indian army has the highest number of volunteers in the world.
    • The medical council certified him to be a doctor and practice medicine for life.
    • She comes from a huge family; she is the youngest of nine.
    • The rock band has been on tour for nearly a year.
    • The audience applauded as Taylor Swift took over the stage.

    List of Common Collective Nouns

    Common collective nouns consist of words that define more than one animal, human or thing. English essay writers and speakers often use these words interchangeably to describe different things. For example, often, writers use the term swarm, typically identified with a group of insects like ants, flies, bees, etc., to denote a crowd of very busy people. Once you get familiar with these collective nouns, you will be amazed to know how to use them in innumerable situations easily. 

    • Herd: a group of plant-eating animals
    • Pack: a group of playing cards; a package of objects; a group of canine animals like dogs and wolves
    • Flock: a group of birds and small hooved animals like goats and sheep
    • Swarm: a group of insects
    • Shoal: a team of fish
    • Group: several humans, animals, places or things
    • Crowd: another term to describe many humans
    • Gang: a team of workers, sailors or criminals
    • Mob: a group of Kangaroos; a group of angry and unruly people
    • Staff: the number of people working in the same office
    • Crew: a group of workers; also to describe those working in aircraft and ship
    • Choir: a group of organised singers
    • Board: a team of professional advisories
    • Panel: a team of experts
    • Orchestra: a group of instrumentalists usually led by a conductor
    • Troupe: a group of monkeys, actors or acrobats
    • Bunch: a collection of sizeably small objects like keys, bananas, grapes, flowers
    • pile: a collection of untidy items like rubbish
    • set: a tidy group of matched items like storybooks, dishes, cassettes
    • stack: a group of items cleanly laid one on top of another
    • series: typically used to describe movies, books, and events that are linked to one another
    • shower: typically used to describe rains though it is also used to define gifts and compliments
    • Fall: commonly used to describe weather like snow, rain or hail.

    What happens if you can't decide whether a collective noun is singular or plural?

    Certain situations arise when you can't decide whether the collective nouns you use are singular or plural. The best thing to do is add a different word in your sentence; the result will inarguably be error-free. For example, tag in the word members after you use team or use players instead. If you want to use the term herd, replace it with the name of an animal, say, zebras or insert students in place of class. In case you are not sure how the sentence would sound, rewrite it. You should know about type of sentences. Practice and give yourself some time. Soon, you will start using the plural words of the collective nouns more than ever. 

    How to Use Collective Nouns

    People who have just begun writing come across some troubles agreeing to sentences with collective nouns, which are reasonable since the singularity or plurality of the collective nouns varies with the context of the sentence. It may be challenging to recognise if collective nouns are singular or plural. What is the best verb and pronoun combination for a chosen collective noun?

    A simple trick is to choose the way to use collective nouns in a sentence. For example, imagine a herd of deer grazing quietly on the savannah. Suddenly a panther jumps down a tall tree. What do the deers do? They scatter as a single unit to get away far away from the predator, galloping across the grassland in the same direction. 

    Humans usually behave in the same way and participate unitedly in the same activity with every other group member. Note while the individuals are in a team, committee, panel or collectively working for a purpose in a group, it is singular collective nouns and must be paired with singular pronouns and verbs. Read the examples to distinguish that every individual as a part of the collective nouns puts effort towards the same action as others of the collective noun.

    1. Every evening the pride follows its leader towards the water hole for a drink.

    Here, "pride" is a singular collective noun, "follows" is a singular verb, "its" is a singular pronoun. All individual animals in the pride come to the water hole simultaneously led by the head of the group.

    1. Today Miss Watson's class takes its calculus test.

    Here, "class" is a singular collective noun, "takes" is a singular proverb, and "its" is a singular pronoun. Every student in Miss Watson's class is appearing on the same test at the same time.


    1. The panel decides that employees are misusing their cell phones, so its pronouncement is that phones must not be allowed during working hours. 

    Here, "panel" is a singular collective noun, "decides" is a singular collective verb, "its" is a singular pronoun. All the individuals on the panel are thinking alike.

    Now imagine a room full of three teenagers. It's improbable for every one of them to do the same thing. One may be watching an OTT series on the TV; the other may be engrossed in a book. The third may be switching its attention between the OTT series and the computer games, having one eye on the computer while the other on the TV. Here you find a single group of teenagers but the individual members of the group are on different things.

    Participants of collective nouns can behave in the same way. As individuals they can be busy with their own thing. When all the members of collective nouns act as individual identities, these collective nouns are plural and must be mixed with plural verbs and pronouns. You can hire Writers to get the assistance for any types of academic writing. The examples below will give a glimpse of how members of collective nouns function separately. 

    1. After eight long hours of sitting in the ill-ventilated courtroom, the jury stretch, look at their watches and head their cars for a drive to their home.

    In this sentence, "Jury" is a plural collective noun, "stretch, look at their watches" are plural verbs, "their" is a plural pronoun. The individual members of the jury are looking at their watches and stretching before heading to their personal cars to get back to their homes.

    1. After appearing in the test, the class prepares for their paper on Shakespeare's sonnets.

    In this sentence, "class" is a plural collective noun, "prepares" is a plural verb and "their" is s plural preposition.

    Thus, collective nous refers to a group of humans, objects, places or things. It can be singular or plural based on the context of its use. 

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