Collective Nouns Explained with Examples

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What Is a Collective Noun?

A collective noun denotes a group of people, animals, ideas, or things as a single entity.

Examples:

a galaxy of stars

a bouquet of flowers

a bunch of grapes

The words "galaxy", "bouquet", and "bunch" are nouns that represent a group.

Examples of Collective Nouns

The English language is so rich that it has a very vast collection of collective nouns. Here is a handy list of commonly-used collective nouns.

Animals
People
Things
a flock of sheep
a band of musicians
a string of pearls
a herd of cattle
a board of directors
a fleet of ships
a litter of puppies
a class of pupils
a pack of cards
a pride of lions
a troupe of dancers
a flight of stairs
a gaggle of geese
a crew of sailors
a quiver of arrows
a pack of wolves
a crowd of people
a clump of trees
a troop of monkeys
a panel of experts
an album of photographs
a flight of birds
a jury of judges
a library of books
a shoal of fish
a team of players
a range of mountains
a swarm of bees
a choir of singers
a bunch of keys

Click on the Circles to Spot the Seven Collective Nouns

band
string
pride
lions
swarm
litter
flowers
pearls
bouquet
galaxy
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Differentiating between a Collective Noun and a Countable Noun

As they refer to a group of countable nouns as a unit, collective nouns are a subcategory of countable nouns.

Examples:

There are 10 birds. (countable noun)

There is a flock of birds. (collective noun)

Collective Nouns that Can Be Used for More Than One Noun

The collective noun "herd" can be used to refer to a group of deer, elephants, and cattle.

Examples:

a herd of deer

a herd of elephants

a herd of cattle

Verb and Pronoun Agreement with a Collective Noun

  • Collective nouns mostly take a singular verb.

    Example:

    The team is playing well.

  • There are, however, instances when the verb can be either singular or plural.

Quick tip: The trick is to verify if the members of a collective noun are acting as a unit or individuals. Their acting as a unit will mean you must use a singular verb or pronoun, just as their functioning as individuals would mean you should use a plural verb or pronoun.

Examples:

Kevin's family consists of five people. (The family is considered as a unit.)

Kevin's family have asked him to buy them Christmas gifts. (Each family member has asked for a separate gift.)

Quick tip: Add a word to denote the members of the group to make it unambiguous.

Example:

The members of the jury were divided in their views.


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Sample Worksheets

Bolster skills using our free printable Collective Noun worksheets.