What are Collective Nouns
Collective nouns are a class of special nouns that refers to a collection of things taken as a whole. A collective noun is a name for a group of specified people, animals or items. In this article, we’ll discuss what are collective nouns and see how they are used in different contexts.
A collective noun, as mentioned above, is a special class of nouns that name groups composed of members. Nouns such as team, group, herd, flock, jury, gang, choir, class, etc. are examples of collective nouns. Collective nouns are words for single things, yet these single things are always made of many members. For example, let us look at the noun team. As we all know, we use the term team when two or more people are working together. So we use phrases like Cricket team, Hockey team, etc. Team refers to all the members as a single entity.
It is important to notice that certain collective nouns are only used in reference to certain other nouns. For example, the collective noun, fleet is always used with the noun ship. Ex: Fleet of ships
Some other examples include,
A herd of buffaloes
A deck of cards
A platoon of soldiers
A troupe of actors
A pack of wolves
A school of fish
A team of players
A litter of puppies
A colony of ants
How to Use Collective Nouns
Many English learners find it confusing to use a collective noun in sentences. The main problem they encounter is sentence agreement. Some assume that collective nouns should be written in singular since they refer to a single entity whereas some others think that they should be written in plural since they imply that there are many individual members within this collection.
It is important to note that collective nouns can be singular or plural; it all depends on the context. A collective noun can be considered singular if the individual members in the collection are behaving in unison with each other. Here, all the members are behaving as one.
The parliament gathers on 20th December.
A herd of buffaloes is grazing on the river bank.
The committee agrees that they should elect a more effective president.
In the above examples, all members of the collection (parliament, herd, and committee) are acting in the same way; this is why the collective noun is considered as singular.
However, if the members within the collection are behaving differently, the collective noun can be treated as plural. Here, the members are acting individually.
The jury disagree about the verdict.
This implies that individual members of the jury are not in unison; they are behaving in different ways. Therefore, the jury can be treated as a plural collective noun here.
After the exam, the class start their research on historical figures.
Although all the students are starting the research, they will start their research at different times, in different places, about different historical figures. Therefore, class can be taken as a plural collective noun.