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Nouns #13: Special Names for Groups, by Dennis Oliver

Nouns #13:
Special Names for Groups (#1)


Collective nouns are interesting because they are
countable, but refer to groups of people or things.
This means that the singular form of a collective noun actually refers to more than one person or thing.
(The plural form of a collective noun refers to more
than one group.)

Here are a few examples:

  example   meaning
  army   a group of soldiers
  audience   a group of people being
entertained, listening to
a speech, etc.
  band   a group of musicians
playing wind and
percussion instruments
  bouquet [buw-ki])   a group of cut flowers
  cattle   a group of cows
  choir   a group of singers
  class   a group of students
studying the same thing
  club   a group of people with
a common interest--
for example, photography
or gardening or Tae Kwon Do
  committee   a group of people in
a company or other
organization working
together on a common
assignment, project, or
area of interest
  crowd   a large number of
people (often in a
small place)
  faculty   the teachers who work
in a school, college,
university, etc.
  flotilla   a group of ships
sailing together
  gang   a group of people who
do things--often criminal
activities--together; also
a group of close friends
  group   general term for a number
of people or things; often
used for musicians
  herd   a group of certain kinds
of animals (usually animals
with hooves--horses, cattle,
deer, sheep, buffalo, etc.)
  jury   a group of people (12 in
the U.S. and Great Britain)
who decide, based on the
evidence that is presented,
whether someone is guilty
or not guilty
  mob   a crowd--often one that
is excited and beginning to
show unruly behavior
  navy   a group of sailors
  orchestra   a group of musicians
playing wind, string, and
percussion instruments
  staff   a group of workers who
provide support for an
individual, a company,
or an organization
  team   a group of athletes playing
together in a sport; a group
of individuals working
together on a project

Special Notes:

1.   Collective nouns have singular grammar but a plural
meaning. For this reason, it is often confusing to decide
whether to use a singular or plural verb. In American
English, the verb is usually singular--because the
collective noun is used to indicate that the group is
thought of as a single unit.

Remember that collective nouns are countable: they
can be singular or plural. If they are plural, they refer
to more than one group:

an army: a group of soldiers /
armies: more than one group of soldiers

a team: a group of athletes in a sport /
teams: more than one group of athletes in
a sport or sports

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