Noun forms an essential part of speech in English Grammar. One of the most common types of noun is a collective noun.
What is a Collective Noun?
Collective nouns are used to refer to a group or collection spoken of as one whole. In other words, one name is given to such a group made of similar things/animals/persons.
Examples of Collective Nouns:
- The French army was defeated at Waterloo.
- The police dispersed the crowd.
- A herd of cattle is passing.
- The jury found the prisoner guilty.
In the above examples, words like army, crowd, herd and jury refer to a particular group. Other such collective nouns are: mob, team, fleet, family, flock, nation, committee, parliament, etc. Further, different categories of living things are denoted by a number of collective nouns: People: a faculty of academics, a babble of barbers, a bench of bishops, a shuffle of bureaucrats, a conjunction of grammarians, a worship of writers, etc.
Fish: a flock of dolphins, a hover of trout, a swarm of eels, a shiver of sharks, a troop of dogfish, etc.
Insects: an intrusion of cockroaches, a plague of locusts, a clutter of spiders, a flight of butterflies, etc.
Reptiles: a quiver of cobras, a bask of crocodiles, a nest of vipers, etc.
Birds: a murder of crows, a wake of buzzards, a parliament of owls, a run of poultry, a descent of woodpeckers, etc.
Collective Nouns: Singular & Plural form
While the living entities take singular or plural form of verb according to their usage in the sentence, the non-living things always take the singular form of verb. When a collective noun uses a plural verb, it is called the noun of multitude. Additionally, some of the collective nouns, though singular in form, are always used as plurals. Examples:
- The committee consists of five members.
- The committee quarrel among themselves.
- These poultry are mine.
- Whose are these cattle?
- Who are those people?
- There are few gentry in this town.
- Vermin destroy our property.
In the examples 1 and 2, the form of verb varies according to the usage. Words like poultry, vermin, cattle, people and gentry are always used as plurals.
Verbal Preparation Series