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Collective Nouns

We know a Noun is the name of a place, person or a thing. The Collective nouns represents a group of individuals or collection of objects or animals. Noun refers to one or a single person or thing, however Collective nouns denotes the presence of more than one in a group.

For example: 
  • People – a crowd of people, a band of men, a class of students
  • Animals a herd of sheep, a pride of lions or a flock of sheep
  • Objects – a bunch of flowers, a bundle of firewood, a galaxy of stars

What is Collective Noun?

Collective Nouns are used to describe a group or collection of individuals. A collective noun is a collection of things taken as a whole. The collective noun includes groups of people, objects, ideas, animals or the birds. We have a list of collective nouns which refers to a cluster but each group is denoted by a different collective noun. 

Though they are used to refer a group of things or persons the noun is considered as one thing. However, according to the sentence, they can be used as singular or plural. But in American English, they take the singular verb forms.

Let us consider the chart below: -

          army                   council                 minority        
 audience   department   navy
 board  faculty  public
 cabinet  family  school
 class  firm  senate
 committee   group  society
 company  jury  team
 corporation   majority  troupe

All the words in the above chart are nouns and they are singular or a single thing but they are made up of more than one individual. We cannot have a family with just one member or a team and a society with just one person. It should be composed of at least two persons. Therefore, depending on the context, we can consider collective nouns as either singular or plural. This may cause some agreement errors too. Like some people consider them as singular or plural. Following are the examples to show this contradiction: -

“Mathematics is my favorite subject” and “The teams have finished their lunch”. In these two examples, we can see that there is difference in both the sentences.

There are different types of collective nouns that are used to represent people, animals, birds or things etc. Some of the examples are given as follows: -
  1. People – team, audience, clan, gang, crowd, family, company, group, jury, class, dynasty, band, army, patrol, staff, troop, tribe, party, pack, panel, gang, den, squad etc.
  2. Animals – herd, flock, hive, litter, litter, pack, army, swarm, pride, colony, nest, culture, chain, troop, gang, cloud, peep, gulp, caravan, sloth, clan etc.
  3. Birds – Flight, cast, kettle, pack, colony, huddle, host, quarrel, gulp, herd, chime, charm, watch, pride etc.
  4. Things, objects or ideas – Deck, body, collection, pile, set, bunch, series, bundle, batch, cluster, chain, ring, pair, agenda etc.


List of Collective Nouns

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Collective nouns are used to express a collection or a group of people, animals, birds and things. For example: - If we see a bird sitting on a tree, we say “Look at the bird” but if we see more than one bird sitting on a tree, we can express it as “Look at the flock of birds”.
There are many different types of collective nouns that are used in our daily lives to manifest or exhibit people or things that are more than one.
If we say, “a herd of buffaloes”, this means more than one buffalo. We can consider Collective nouns as singular or plural which can be determined by the circumstances it has been used.

Following is the list of the collective nouns used to describe: -
  • People: 
  1. A class of MBA students
  2. A card committee of club
  3. HR department of an organization
  4. Group of teachers
  5. Crew of sailors in a ship
  6. Audience in a TV show
  7. Dynasty of kings
  8. Neighborhood family
  9. Gang of thieves
  10. Orchestra of musicians
  • Animals and Birds:
  1. Troop of apes
  2. Herd of sheep
  3. Army of ants
  4. Flock of camels
  5. Brood of chickens
  6. Murder of crows
  7. Herd of buffalo
  8. Team of dolphins
  9. Kit of pigeons
  10. Walk of snails
  11. Nest of snakes
  12. Herd of swans
  13. Streak of tigers
  14. Colony of bats
  15. Herd of antelope
  16. Flock of sheep
  17. Flock of goose
  18. Pod of whales
  • Things or Objects:
  1. A cluster of diamonds
  2. Pile of dung
  3. Packet of cigarettes
  4. A bunch of bananas
  5. Hover of helicopters
  6. Cache of jewels
  7. Knot of shoelaces
  8. Pair of shoes
  9. Set of tools
  10. Forest of trees
  11. A string of pearls

Examples of Collective Nouns

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Collective nouns are defined as the name given to collection or group of nouns when we refer to them as one quantity. This is considered as a common method wherein we substitute the words like team, class or group for the different objects, animals or people. There are certain specific names that are given to certain objects or animals or birds in which they are presented more than one. This makes the usage of collective nouns very interesting and funny. 

The evolution of these collective nouns has happened from the poetry and imagination of the Medieval English. 

Usually in English language, the words that describe more than one person or object or an animal or a bird are considered plural whereas Collective nouns are an exception. Collective nouns are a unique class of nouns which represents more than one entity.

The examples to represent some of the groups or collection of persons, places, animals, birds or things are given below: -
  • Network of computers
  • Fold of chairs
  • Pile of Dung
  • Pack of suitcases
  • Hug of teddy bears
  • Cluster of things
  • Atlas of maps
  • Collection of objects
  • Board of directors
  • Crowd of people
  • Class of students
  • Staff of employees
  • Family of members
  • Band of men
  • Team of cricketers
  • Pack of dogs
  • Nest of ants
  • Bunch of flowers
  • Gang of prisoners
  • Illusion of painters
  • Colony of bees
  • Clutch of eggs
  • Litter of puppies
  • School of whales
  • Flight of steps
  • String of pearls
  • Groan of puns
  • Range of mountains
  • Bench of judges
  • Banner of knights
  • Set of rules
All the above nouns are singular like Range, Clutch, Colony, School but they are used to represent a group or collection of any quantity be it a person, any object or thing, or any animal or bird. But remember we can always use collective nouns as plural.
  • Three clutches of eggs
  • Four herds of elephants
  • Two strings of pearls
  • Different sets of rules
Hence the collective nouns can be singular or plural based on their usage in English language.
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