Collective nouns

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.

Collective nouns

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.

  1. Our team is winning.
  2. 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