collective noun


collective noun
a noun, as herd, jury, or clergy, that appears singular in formal shape but denotes a group of persons or objects.
[1510-20]
Usage. Whether a COLLECTIVE NOUN, which is singular in form, is used with a singular or plural verb depends on whether the word is referring to the group as a unit or to its members as individuals. In American English, a COLLECTIVE NOUN naming an organization regarded as a unit is usually treated as singular: The corporation is holding its annual meeting. The team is having a winning season. The government has taken action. In British English, such nouns are commonly treated as plurals: The corporation are holding their annual meeting. The team are playing well. The government are in agreement.
When a COLLECTIVE NOUN naming a group of persons is treated as singular, it is referred to by the relative pronoun that or which: His crew is one that (or which) works hard. When such a noun is treated as plural, the pronoun is who: His crew are specialists who volunteered for the project. In formal speech and writing, COLLECTIVE NOUNS are usually not treated as both singular and plural in the same sentence: The enemy is fortifying its (not their) position. The enemy are bringing up their heavy artillery.
When the COLLECTIVE NOUNS couple and pair refer to people, they are usually treated as plurals: The newly married couple have found a house near good transportation. The pair are busy furnishing their new home. The COLLECTIVE NOUN number, when preceded by a, is treated as a plural: A number of solutions were suggested. When preceded by the, it is treated as a singular: The number of solutions offered was astounding.
Other common COLLECTIVE NOUNS are class, crowd, flock, panel, committee, group, audience, staff, and family.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • collective noun — 1. A collective noun is one that is singular in form and denotes a number of individuals, for example audience, choir, committee, flock, multitude. Apart from the names of individual animals, birds, etc. (deer, grouse, sheep, trout) and names for …   Modern English usage

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  • collective noun — ► NOUN ▪ a noun that denotes a group of individuals (e.g. assembly, family) …   English terms dictionary

  • Collective noun — In linguistics, a collective noun is a word used to define a group of objects, where objects can be people, animals, emotions, inanimate things, concepts, or other things. For example, in the phrase a pride of lions , pride is a collective noun.… …   Wikipedia

  • collective noun — collec′tive noun′ n. gram. use a noun, as herd, jury, or clergy, that appears singular in formal shape but denotes a group of individuals or objects • Etymology: 1510–20 usage: Whether a collective noun will be used with a singular or plural verb …   From formal English to slang

  • collective noun — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms collective noun : singular collective noun plural collective nouns linguistics a noun that refers to a group of people and is followed by a singular or plural verb, for example team or family …   English dictionary

  • collective noun — noun A noun which, though singular, refers to a group of things or animals. Examples: a school of fish, a pride of lions. Syn: noun of assemblage, noun of multitude …   Wiktionary

  • collective noun — noun (C) technical a noun, such as committee or family , that is the name of people or things considered as a unit …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English


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