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Unscramble Collective Nouns

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: Whales travel in a pod for protection.
'Pod' refers to a group of whales.

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 pack of cards a gang of robbers
a company of swans a colony of citizens
a class of students a panel of judges
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 crew of 'sailors' 'sailors' (noun) are part of a crew.
2. a staff of 'teachers' 'teachers' (noun) make up a staff.
3. a tribe of 'monkeys' 'monkeys' (noun) are part of a tribe.
4. a trip of 'goats' 'goats' (noun) are part of a trip.

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 swarm of bees.
Swarm is an animate collective noun.

2. A pair of shoes.
Pair is an inanimate collective noun.

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

a brood of hens a bed of clams
a corps of giraffes a tribe of natives
a clutter of cats a troop of apes
a herd of cattle a stand of flamingoes

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 firm of lawyers writes documents to send to their clients.
2. The couple is waiting for their passports.
3. A pack of cards costs two dollars at the toy store.
4. A school of fish always stays together.

Here, each singular verb .ie., writes, is, costs and stays, agree with the respective singular collective noun, i.e., firm, couple, pack and school. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.