Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are easy to recognize and they’re fun to work with, too.  Not only they rich in developmental history, in some case they can add vivid imagery to writing.  The following explains the usage of this unique class of nouns.

What is a Collective Noun?

Collective nouns denote a group of people, objects, ideas, or animals as a single concept. Though the collective noun refers to more than one in a group, the noun itself is considered a single thing.

However, they can be used as either singular of plural.  It all depends on the sentence.

Tying to decide which form to use can get confusing because you have to use the correct verb and pronoun forms, too.  One way to make it a little easier is to determine if the collective noun is referring to a unit working as individuals or if they are working together in unison.

Examples of Collective Nouns

The singular verb and pronoun form is used is if they are acting in unison.  For example:

The class listens [singular verb form] carefully to its [singular pronoun] teacher’s instructions.  (Here the class is a unit acting together as one.  They are all doing the same thing, listening, at the same time.)

When the members of the group are acting on their own, use the plural verb and pronoun forms.  For example:

The class start [plural verb form] their [plural pronoun] projects while the teacher grades their [plural pronoun] papers.  (The class is a unit, but they act individually when they work on their own projects.)

Need more examples of collective nouns?  You’ll find a whole list below.

List of Collective Nouns

The following nouns are among the most common collective nouns.

Army Audience Band
Board Cast Class
Committee Company Crowd
Family Faculty Group
Jury Navy Puble
Plethora School Society
Staff Team Troupe

Collective Nouns For Animals

One thing that makes collective nouns for animals so much fun is there is so much diversity involved and the noun phrases often paint a vivid picture in our minds when we hear them.  Each of the following examples of collective nouns can be paired with more than one type of animal, such as a herd of cattle or a herd of buffalo.

Brood of chickens Colony of rabbits
Drove of cattle Flock of birds
Gaggle of geese Herd of buffalo
Litter of kittens Nest of bees
Pride of lions Swarm of hornets
Bed of oysters Team of horses

There are many more but these phrases will help make your writing sing with imagery. You can probably think of even more on your own!

If you would like to practice, click here to download printable Collective Noun Worksheets.