Collective Nouns: Definition, Examples and Exercises

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Band, flock, pride? Have you ever heard of these words and made yourself wonder why we use them? Well, these are known as collective nouns, perfect to denote a group of people, objects, places, etc. Usually, they have a form of plural nouns. But then, do they come in singular nouns or plural nouns? Well, worry not, you will learn all about this noun, and its definition through the lens of examples in this blog, we have compiled for you. 

Must Read: Nouns: Definition, Examples

What are Collective Nouns? – Definition

A Collective Noun refers to a group of people or a collection of things taken as a whole. They can be nouns such as ‘family’, ‘flock’ or ‘family’. The word ‘collective’ means ‘characteristic of a group of individuals taken together.’ One thing to remember when using a collective noun is to use the right form of the verb in sentences 

collective nouns

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How to Use Collective Nouns in English?  

Here are two rules that you must follow when using collective nouns:

Rule 1: Use a singular verb when thinking of the group as a unit.

Example: The class (noun) waits (verb) patiently for their teacher to arrive.

Rule 2: Use a plural verb when talking about a group of members

Example: The class (noun) begin (verb) their homework assignments while they wait for the announcements. 

Also Read: Grammar for IELTS

List of Collective Nouns to Improve Your Vocabulary

Here are some examples of collective nouns that will give you an idea.

Collective Nouns for Animals

Group of Animals Collective Noun
A Group of Bees Swarm
A Group of Lions  Pride
A Group of Wolves Pack
A Group of Ants  Colony
A Group of Ships Fleet

Collective Nouns for People

Group of People Collective Noun
A Group of Sailors Crew
A Group of Dancers Group
A Group of Thieves  Pack
A Group of Players Team
A Group of Soldiers  Army

Collective Nouns for Objects/Things

Group of Objects/Things Collective Noun
Apples  Bushel
Bananas Comb
Grapes Bunch
Flowers  Bunch/Bouquet
Cards Deck/Pack

Quick Read: Determiners in English Grammar: Definition, Type & Rules

15+ Collective Nouns Examples

1. The herd of cows were grazing in the field.

2. The flock of birds were flying in formation.

3. The colony of ants was working together.

4. A cloud of dust.

5. Andrew was excited to see a herd of elephants.

6. The bench of judges gave the verdict.

7. A basket of fruits.

8. A bale of cotton.

9. The flock of seagulls landed on the beach. 

10. The ants brought the bread crumbs back to the colony.

11. The pride of lions was on the hunt.

12. The school of fish swam in circles.

13. The pack of wolves howled at the moon.

14. The crew of sailors sailed off.

15. A collection of coins. 

16. The farmer collected a sheaf of grain from each row of wheat in the field.

17. The birder watched a pod of birds flying north.

18. The poet published an anthology of poems.

19. The filmmaker edited a reel of the film.

20. The family enjoyed a bowl of rice with their dinner every night. 

Are Collective Nouns Singular or Plural?

As you might have noticed in the examples mentioned above, collective nouns, when used describe the plurality of something (which could be an object, event, person or place). This often leads to confusion when using the right form of verbs. In conclusion, collective nouns come in the singular noun category.  

Read the sentences below and figure out which one of the two is correct.

Sentence 1: This year’s team is ready for the finale.

Sentence 2: This year’s team are ready for the finale. 

In the above two sentences, you can notice that Sentence 2 is incorrect. We must use a singular verb ‘is’ with a collective noun as it represents a singular unit. 

Must Read: Plural Nouns: Definition, Rules, Examples & Exercises

Practice With Collective Noun exercises

Now that you have gained sufficient knowledge about this noun. We have prepared a small gap-filling exercise which will help you check your knowledge.

Fill in the blanks with the correct collective noun. 

  1. A ________ of cows.
  2. A ________ of cattle.
  3. A ________ of sharks.
  4. A ________ of hamsters.
  5. A ________ of kittens.
  6. A ________ of musicians.
  7. A ________ of rumours.
  8. A ________ of sheep.
  9. A ________ of wolves.
  10. A _______ of arrows.

Check Your Answers!

  1. Herd
  2. Herd
  3. Shiver
  4. Horde
  5. Kindle
  6. Band
  7. Nest
  8. Flock
  9. Pack
  10. Quiver

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What are some common collective nouns?

Some common collective nouns include Herd of cows, pack of wolves, band of musicians, bed of clams, kindle of kittens and many more. 

What is a collective noun?

A collective noun refers to a group of animals, people, things etc. 

Is a collective noun a singular or a plural noun?

Collective nouns come under singular nouns. 

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