Tuesday’s Tips: Collective Nouns

We all know that nouns are words that name a person, place, thing, or idea. They come in two versions: singular or plural. Most of the time, it’s easy to spot the difference:

one cat = singular; two or more cats = plural.

However, there is a category of nouns that name a collection of people, places, and things. These are called collective nouns, and although they name something composed of several people or animals, they are treated as singular when it comes to verb and pronoun agreement. Some examples of collective nouns:

team, company, herd, pack, gang, collection, class, etc.

There are many more. With collective nouns, the verb must be singular. For example:

The band has a talented singer. Not: The band have a talented singer.

Pronouns replacing collective nouns must also be singular. For example:

The staff presented its proposal at the meeting. Not: The staff presented their proposal at the meeting.

Some collective nouns are lyrical and fun. My favorite: A murder of crows. The Collective Noun Page lists some fun ideas for collective nouns (note: this is a list for fun, so not all the listings are real). What are some of your favorite collective nouns?


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