When a noun refers to the individuals or things as an undivided single unit, it is called a Collective Noun.
Class, crowd, bunch, team, flock, herd, army, group, staff, library, pack, nation, committee, etc.,
It is generally used for a group of people or things. Since the noun is considered a single unit, the verb we use must be singular.
- Physics class has been arranged for the students today.
- Our school team is strong enough to face the opponents.
- My family lives in a remote village.
- The crowd has been dispersed by the police.
Collective nouns are the names given to a collection of persons, animals, or things, taken together, and spoken of as one whole.
To find more lists of collective nouns click the following links.
- Collective Nouns for Things and Places
- Collective Nouns for Animals and Birds
- Collective Nouns for People
Collective Nouns – Singular or Plural
Some Collective Nouns can be used as singular or plural depending on whether it denotes individual members or a single unit. When a Collective Noun is used as a plural noun, the verb should also be plural. The plural use of Collective Nouns is also called Nouns of Multitude.
Few examples for such Collective Nouns:
class, club, committee, school, team, union, board of directors, company, Congress, orchestra, firm, Parliament, government, jury, Ministry, army, group, party, crowd, flock, generation, mob, staff, department, family etc.,
- The company staff has attended social work activities. (staff is a single unit)
- The company staff have attended social work activities. (staff denotes individual members)
- The club has been formed recently. (club is a single unit)
- The club are going to participate in the zonal meeting. (club denotes individual members)
Nouns of Multitude:
When a Collective Noun denotes individual members or things of the group, it is called a Noun of Multitude. Here Collective Noun is considered plural so the verb should also be plural.
Committee, team, syndicate, faculty, audience, public, company, Congress, orchestra, firm, and Parliament, government, jury, Ministry, army, group, party, crowd, flock, generation, mob, staff, department, family, crew, clergy, herd, etc.,
- The team were all given badges to wear at the event.
- The committee were asked to submit their investigation report.
- The police are interrogating the villagers about the recent incident.
Collective Nouns and Nouns of Multitude:
A Noun of Multitude is also a type of Collective Noun. A Collective Noun denotes an undivided single unit and a Noun of Multitude denotes individual members or things of the group.
We use a singular verb with Collective Nouns, whereas a plural verb is used with Nouns of Multitude.
Examples for Collective Nouns:
In the following sentences, the nouns have been used as a single unit and the singular verb is used accordingly.
- The family is going to attend the function today.
- A jury has expressed its opinion.
- The audience is gathering slowly to attend the event.
Examples for Nouns of Multitude:
In the following sentences, the nouns have been used as individual members and the plural verb is used accordingly.
- The family are going to attend the function today.
- The jury have expressed their opinions.
- The audience have gathered in huge numbers for this great event.
Exercise for practice:
Find out Collective Nouns from the following sentences.
- The board of directors is going to take a final decision on this issue
- My friend’s family maintains a bakery in the town.
- This new company offered its staff extra bonus.
- An army of ants attacked a bed of snakes.
- They offered Suresh a bouquet of flowers.
- The candidate who gets the majority of votes will win.
- A swarm of wasps suddenly attacked a group of people.
- How beautiful it is to see a rabble of butterflies.
- In my friend’s home, there is a big library of books.
- The present generation is incredibly genius.