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: The pride of lions hunts every night.
|a group of classmates||a class of students|
|a team of football players||a committee of parents|
|a crowd of fans||a number of supporters|
|an audience of spectators||a family of five|
|an army of caterpillars, frogs or soldiers||a fleet of airplanes or ships|
|a belt of asteroids||a bouquet of flowers|
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.
|a group of 'classmates'||'classmates' (noun)are part of the group.|
|a class of 'students'||'students' (noun)make up a class.|
|a team of 'football players'||'football players' (noun)are part of a team.|
|a committee of 'parents'||'parents' (noun)belong in a committee.|
Animate and Inanimate Collective Nouns:
Collective nouns can be animate or inanimate. Animate nouns refer to things that are living. Inanimate nouns refer to things that are not living. Some examples are words like flock, pack, pride, pod, colony, swarm, school and herd.
1. A flock of birds or sheep is animate.
2. A fleet of ships is inanimate.
3. A pod of whales swam by the pier.
Pod is an animate collective singular noun.
4. A collection of coins was found on the dresser Collection is an inanimate collective singular noun.
Read the following example phrases. Here, each collective noun is underlined.
|a pack of wolves||a pride of lions|
|a school of fish||a herd of antelope, buffalo, cattle, deer or zebra|
|a colony of ants, bats, beavers, lepers or penguins||a gaggle of geese|
|a caravan of camels||a clan of hyenas|
|a hive of bees||a tribe of monkeys or natives|
|a troop of apes or kangaroos||a swarm of ants or bees|
In all these examples, each animal is part of the whole group.
|A 'wolf' belongs to a pack.||A 'lion' belongs in a pride.|
|A 'fish' belongs to a school.||A 'buffalo' is part of a herd.|
|An 'ant' sticks with its colony.||A 'bee' is part of a swarm.|
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.
Examples: 1. The flock of geese flies south each winter.
2. The litter of kittens was born under the stairs.
3. The family takes a lot of photos on their vacations.
4. The army recruits soldiers each year.
Here, the singular verbs .ie., flies, was born, takes and recruits, agree with the singular collective nouns, i.e., flock, litter, family and army, respectively.