A collective noun is a noun that refers to groups of people, animals or things. Audience, team, pack, and murder are all examples of collective nouns.
An audience is a group of people who gather together to watch or listen to something.
A team is a group of people who do something together.
A pack is a set of things wrapped in paper.
A murder is a group of crows.
A collective noun can be followed by a singular or a plural verb depending on whether we’re talking about the group as a single entity or the individuals in the group. In the first sentence below, the team is acting as a single entity. In the second sentence, the members of the team are acting separately.
- Our team is winning.
- The team are changing clothes.
The collective nouns police, people, and cattle are always used with a plural verb.
- Police are investigating the accident.
- People think I'm weird.
- The cattle were grazing in the field.
List of common collective nouns
Note that some collective nouns are interchangeable.
These collective nouns are used for people.
- A crowd of people/kids/protesters/shoppers/spectators
- A gang of pickpockets/robbers/thieves/youths/schoolchildren
- A board of directors
- A mob of fans/teenagers
- A choir of singers
- A panel of experts/judges/
- A troupe of actors/dancers/singers
- A class of students
- A team of experts/investigators/detectives/scientists
- A pack of journalists/reporters/thieves
- A flock of children/tourists
These collective nouns are used for animals.
- An army of ants
- A flight of geese/swans/swallows
- A flock of sheep/goats/birds
- A swarm of bees/locusts/flies/wasps
- A shoal of fish (and types of fish)
- A herd of cows/deer/elephants/sheep
- A pack of dogs/hounds/hyenas/wolves
- A hive of bees
- A litter of puppies/kittens/piglets
These collective nouns are used for things.
- A litter of newspapers
- A stack of books/DVDs/papers
- A stack of firewood
- A fleet of ships
- A basket of fruit/shopping
- A pack of cigarettes/gum
- A bunch of bananas/grapes/flowers/keys
- A set of glasses/cups/plates/tools
- A pile of books/clothes/bricks
- A wad of banknotes
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