Collective Nouns

What are collective nouns? Stop right there! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, let's recall what nouns are.

Nouns are one of the eight parts of speech. They name people, places, things, or ideas. Read the What is a noun? page to learn more. Okay, now that you remember what nouns are, let's get back to the main question!

Collective nouns refer to groups of people, animals, or things. They are one of the categories of nouns.

audience, band, class, club, crowd, collection, committee 
family, flock, group, herd, team

Here are some example sentences.

Our class went to the museum today. 

The audience clapped wildly at the end of the play. 

I love my stamp collection!

class is made up of a group of students acting as one whole.

An audience is made up of a group of people acting as one whole.

A collection is made up of a group of things (in this case, stamps) acting as one whole. Do you sense a pattern here? I sure do.


Singular or Plural?

Singular means one. Plural means more than one. 

What do you think? Are these guys singular or plural? (It's important to know this so that you can have the proper subject verb agreement.)

I'll give you a hint. They name many things that come together to act as one group.

If you said singular, you're right! 

If you said plural, you're also right! 

What? It's crazy but true. 

These nouns can be singular or plural 
depending on the context of the sentence.  

They are usually singular. 

They are usually singular because they focus on the individual elements acting together as one unit. In these cases, use a singular verb to match the singular subject.

The team is winning! (team is seen as one unit)

The herd is following the shepherd. (herd is seen as one unit)

They can also be plural. When the sentence is highlighting the individuals among the group, the noun is plural. In these cases, use a plural verb to match the plural subject.

The team are cooperating well tonight. (team is seen as many individuals)  

The herd are running in all different directions! (herd is seen as many individuals)


Sentence Diagramming

Diagramming sentences is the bee's knees.

Sentence diagrams show us the relationship between words, phrases, and clauses in sentences.

If you've never diagrammed before, the following image might give you a small heart attack. If that is the case, I hope that you quickly regain your health when you realize that if you learn to diagram step-by-step, it's easy, fun, and awesome.

So, nouns can perform many jobs in sentences. Here are some of the noun jobs and how you would diagram them.

If you want to teach or learn grammar the easy way, then follow a step-by-step program that clearly lays everything out for you and allows you to move at your own pace. The Get Smart program is presented in a logical sequence, so it's not an overwhelming mishmash of information. Before you know it, you'll be a grammar and sentence diagramming pro!

The whole program is online, so you have instant access to these lessons and videos. It's easy and fun. You can get it at www.English-Grammar-Revolution.com/daily-diagrams.html
Keep learning and have fun!

Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of the Grammar Revolution step-by-step grammar and sentence diagramming programs. Her programs are guaranteed not only to teach you grammar, but also to give you more confidence in your communication skills.

To get your free Parts of Speech guide and receive Elizabeth's bi-weekly articles on improving your grammar and having fun with sentence diagramming, enter your email address and name below right now.

E-mail Address
First Name
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Diagram It.

Now you know all about collective nouns!
Go back to the parts of speech

Back to English Grammar Home