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Choose Correct Collective Noun

A noun is a person, place, or a thing. A collective noun is a special kind of noun. It names a group of people or things. That group is considered one unit or one whole.

Example: A fleet of ships approached the shoreline.

'Fleet' refers to a group of ships, sailing together.

Examples of collective nouns include words like group, class, team, committee, crowd, number, audience and family. Collective nouns are a fun way to make writing more interesting.

Read the following example phrases. Here, each collective noun is underlined.

a bundle of sticks a line of people
a fleet of ships a team of horses
a group of students a squad of cheerleaders
an audience of spectators an army of soldiers

As you can see in these examples, the words "a" or "an" usually come before a collective noun. Collective nouns can also be singular or plural. However, most collective nouns are written as singular nouns.

Using 'of' with collective nouns:
Collective nouns are usually followed by the word "of" and a noun telling who or what belongs in that group.

For example: -

1. a caravan of 'cars' 'cars' (noun) are part of a caravan.
2. a gaggle of 'geese' 'geese' (noun) make up a gaggle.
3. a company of 'swans' 'swans' (noun) are part of a company.
4. a mob of 'kangaroos' 'kangaroos' (noun) are part of a mob.

Animate and Inanimate Collective Nouns:
Collective nouns can be animate or inanimate. Animate nouns refer to things that are living. Some examples are words like flock, pack, pride, pod, colony, swarm, school and herd. Inanimate nouns refer to things that are not living.

1. A rookery of seals.
Rookery is an animate collective noun.

2. A quiver of arrows.
Quiver is an inanimate collective noun.

Read the following example phrases. Here, each collective noun is underlined.

a flock of birds a school of fish
a nest of mice a pack of wolves
a murder of crows a lodge of beavers
a herd of cattle a pride of lions

In all these examples, each animal is part of the whole group.

A 'bird' belongs to a flock. A 'fish' is part of a school.
A 'mice' is part of a nest. A 'wolf' belongs to a pack.
A 'cattle' is part of a herd. A 'lion' is part of a pride.

Some collective nouns that describe groups of animals can be used for more than one group of animals. For example, the collective noun "herd" can be used to describe a group of cattle, buffalo, moose, deer, elephants, and other animals.

What Verb To Use With a Collective Noun?
Collective nouns can be tricky to pair with verbs. They can often appear to be plural when in fact they are singular. Nouns and verbs must be in agreement to make an accurate sentence. Most collective nouns use a singular noun instead of a plural noun. This means that they require a singular verb.

Read the examples below. Here, the collective nouns and the verbs are shown in bold.

1. The mob of kangaroos hopped through the plains.
2. The yoke of oxen plowed the field.
3. A kettle of hawks circled their prey.
4. We gathered a huge bundle of sticks.

Here, each singular verb .ie., hopped, plowed, circled and gathered, agree with the respective singular collective noun, i.e., mob, yoke, kettle and bundle. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.