What Are Collective Nouns? (with Examples)

What Are Collective Nouns? (with Examples)

A collective noun is the word used to represent a group of people, animals, or things.

Examples of Collective Nouns

Here are some examples of collective nouns:

  • Flock
  • Crowd
  • Committee
  • Choir
  • Group
  • Team
There are lots of collective nouns. Below are some examples of the most common ones.

Common Collective Nouns Used for People

Here are some examples of common collective nouns used for people:

  • A band of musicians
  • A board of directors
  • A choir of singers
  • A class of students
  • A crowd of people
  • A gang of thieves
  • A pack of thieves
  • A panel of experts
  • A team of players
  • A troupe of dancers

Common Collective Nouns Used for Animals

Here are some examples of common collective nouns used for animals:

  • An army of ants
  • A flock of birds
  • A flock of sheep
  • A herd of deer
  • A hive of bees
  • A litter of puppies
  • A murder of crows
  • A pack of hounds
  • A pack of wolves
  • A school of fish
  • A swarm of locusts
  • A team of horses
  • A troop of lions

Common Collective Nouns Used for Things

Here are some examples of common collective nouns used for things:

  • A bouquet of flowers
  • A bunch of flowers
  • A fleet of ships
  • A forest of trees
  • A galaxy of stars
  • A pack of cards
  • A pack of lies
  • A pair of shoes
  • A range of mountains
  • A wad of notes


See also:

Take a test on collective nouns
What are nouns?
The different types of nouns
What are pronouns?
The different types of pronouns
Abstract nouns
Compound nouns
Concrete nouns
Non-countable nouns (mass nouns)
Gender-specific nouns
Verbal nouns
Gerunds
Noun clauses
Noun phrases
 
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You can treat a collective noun as singular or plural depending on the sense of your sentence. For example:

  • The audience is happy.
  • The audience are all wearing comedy wigs.
Be aware that lots of your grammar-savvy readers will expect you to treat a collective noun as singular unless you have a good reason for treating it as plural.

To avoid confusion, add a word to denote the members of the group:

  • The members of the audience are happy.
  • The members of the audience are all wearing comedy wigs.
When treating a collective noun as singular, be consistent. For example:

  • The group is happy with their performance.
  • (is = singular / their = plural)
  • The group is happy with its performance.
  • (is = singular / its = singular)
Read more about treating collective nouns as singular or plural.
 
 
TERMS OF VENERY

Words used to describe a specific group of things (usually animals) are called terms of venery. They are also collective nouns. Examples:

  • colony of ants
  • hive of bees
  • school of dolphins
  • parliament of owls
  • cloud of bats
  • mob of kangaroos
USING THE WRONG COLLECTIVE NOUN: A USEFUL LITERARY TECHNIQUE

Some collective nouns are quite versatile. For example, you can say:

  • a pack of cards.
  • a pack of thieves
  • a pack of wolves
The most versatile collective noun is group. It can be used with lots of things. However, most collective nouns cannot be shared. For example, you shouldn't say:

  • a bouquet of wolves
  • a swarm of lions
  • a litter of ships
However, deliberately using the wrong collective noun could present a useful connotation. For example:

  • a pack of ships
  • (This gives the idea of ships hunting likes wolves or thieves. It brings pirates to mind.)
  • a forest of soldiers
  • (This gives the idea of thousands of soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder.)
Therefore, using the "wrong" collective noun can be a useful technique in creative writing.