Unit 3.1

Collective Nouns

Introduction

Collective nouns refer to a noun describing groups of two or more people, animals or things.

Form

Collective nouns usually appear before nouns of groups. Collective nouns can work only with a specific noun.

The most commonly used collective nouns are:

  1. We use army of with ants, caterpillars, soldiers
  2. We use gang of with labourers, slaves, thieves
  3. We use herd of with cows, deer, elephants
  4. We use litter of with kittens, pigs, puppies
  5. We use pack of with dogs, hyenas, wolves
  6. We use team of with athletes, horses, players

NOTE: With singular determiners (a/an, each, every…), collective nouns must be used with singular verbs.

Example

  1. An army of ants appeared out of the grass.  
  2. A gang of labourers was playing football.
  3. There was a herd of cows grazing in the field. 
  4. The dog looked proudly at her litter of puppies. 
  5. A pack of dogs was running towards me.
  6. A team of players was doing athletics.

Use

We use collective nouns when we combine specific nouns with singular words that refer to a group of people, thing or animal.

We use:

  • With a singular verb when collective nouns refer to one entity;
  • With a plural verb when collective nouns refer to a team.

Summary

Collective nouns refer to a noun describing groups of two or more people, animals or things.

The most commonly used collective nouns are: army of, gang of, herd of, litter of, pack of, team of

We use them:

  • With a singular verb when collective nouns refer to one entity;
  • With a plural verb when collective nouns refer to a team.

For example:
“The gang of thieves was caught.” = The gang is treated as a single entity, that is why we need to use a singular verb.
— “The gang of thieves were having an argument.” = The members of the gang is emphasised, therefore we need to use a plural verb.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises


License

English Grammar B1 Level Copyright © 2018 by books4languages. All Rights Reserved.