Collective nouns masterclass

This lesson helps us understand what collective nouns are, how they are formed, and when we use them.

What are collective nouns in English?

Collective noun definition: A collective noun is a name given to a collection of something sharing one common feature. The entire group works as one entity and is often considered singular in English. In other words, it is a collection of nouns that share the same category.

Please note in advance that there are some collective nouns that are considered plural.

When more than one person, animal, or thing that shares something in common is brought together, we give it a name called a collective noun. Note that every item in the collection is the same in terms of at least one feature.

Refer to the above image. There are 6 different flowers. When you put them together in a group, they become a thing called a bouquet— a collective noun.

Notice all the items in the collection (bouquet) belong to the same category: flower. They all are flowers.

Imagine you made a collection of some flowers, fruits, vegetables, and dry fruits. Would you call it a bouquet? You wouldn’t, right? Because the items in the collection don’t belong to the same category, we won’t bring them together and give them a name.

Collective noun explanation

A list of collective nouns in English (one word)

Collective nounsMeaning
Armya collection/group of soldiers
Crowda group of people at a place
Jurya group of judges
Familya group of people related to one other
Staffa group of people who work for an organization
Audiencea group of people who watch or listen to something (play, show, speech, television)
Classa group of students being taught together
Teama group of sports players playing together against a team
Choira group of people who sing together
Moba large group of disorderly people being violent
Coupletwo people who are married or in a relationship
Societya group of people living together in a social system, sharing the same spacial territory

A list of collective nouns that are often used with the category

Collective nouns for peopleCollective nouns for thingsCollective nouns for animals
a board of directorsa galaxy of starsa swarm of bees
a band of musiciansa bundle of sticksa string of horses
a troupe of dancersa basket of fruitsa cloud of ants
a cast of actorsa pair of shoesa colony of gulls/fish/ants
a circle of friendsa catalogue of goodsa flight of birds
a gang of thieves/thugsan album of photoszoo – a group of wild animals
a bunch of friends/peoplea block of flats/houses/apartmentsa hive of bees
a caravan of travelersa caravan of cars/busesa stud of horses
a faculty of teachersa fleet of ships/carsa pack of wolves
a tribe of natives/Indiansa bunch of keysa school of fish
a crew of soldiers/pilotsa forest of treesa pride of lions
a jury of judgesa pack of cardsa herd of cattle/elephants
a team of experts/athletesa troop of soldiersa flock of geese/birds
a party of politicians(a pile of clothes, a pile of boxes, a pile of mail, a pile of stones)
Meaning: a group of things lying on top of each other
a school of whales
a team of doctors/expertsa packet of cigerattesa pack of wolves

Examples of collective nouns in sentences

  • My family does not allow me to go out post 12 am.
  • Look at that beautiful couple sitting on the bench.
  • You will always see a pile of clothes lying in my room.
  • This is a great society to live in. The people here are very supportive and generous.
  • It’s the response of your audience that tells you how you performed.
  • We will have to wait for the Jury to decide who’s right.
  • We need a team of amazing coders to bring this idea to life.
  • The company faced heavy losses last year, but the staff was always paid on time.
  • The crew on the flight was amazing.
  • He brought a gang of thugs to threaten me.

Points to note about collective nouns

A) Collective nouns such as group, collection, and pack can be used with multiple nouns. But that’s not the case with most collective nouns.
  • A group of singers ✅
  • A group of dancers ✅
  • A group of soldiers ✅
  • A pack of cigarettes ✅
  • A pack of dogs ✅
  • A pack of wolves ✅
  • An army of dogs ❌
  • An army of singers ❌
  • An army of cards ❌
  • A bouquet of singers ❌
  • A family of flowers❌

Let’s look at the collective nouns that are used for certain nouns.

Collective nounsNouns they refers to
Herdcows, sheep, cattle, elephants
Packwolves, cards, dogs
Colony/swarmants, bees
Pride lions
Schoolfish, whales
Caravancars/buses, camels

NOTE: In case you don’t remember a collective noun for a certain animal, thing, or animal, use common collective nouns such as group and collection.

B) Consider collective nouns as plural (leaving a few exceptions) unless you specifically want to focus on the individual items in the group.
  • Our army is capable of fighting and dismantling any threats. ✅
  • Our army is capable of fighting and dismantling any threats.❌
  • The couple is living happily. ✅
  • The couple are living happily. ❌
  • My family is very religious. ✅
  • My family are very religious. ❌
  • Our team was very close to winning the game. ✅
  • Our team were very close to winning the game. ❌

If the speaker specifically wants to focus on the individual members of a group, the collective noun is considered plural.

  • The jury has given their decision.

The speaker is referring to the noun jury as a single unit; it is considered one entity and that’s why the subject has used a singular verb with it.

  • The Jury are not in agreement on who should be declared the winner.

The members of the jury are not agreeing with each other on the decision. The noun Jury here is considered plural as the speaker is referring to the individual members of the jury, not the jury as a whole (one unit).

  • His family were fighting each other because of their unequal share.

The speaker is referring to the individual members of the family. To avoid confusion or make it clear that the noun is plural, add the word ‘members’ after the noun.

  • The board members are not in agreement on who should be declared the winner.
  • His family members were fighting each other because of their unequal share.
C) The collection noun ‘police’ is always treated as plural.
  • The police has arrived.
  • The police have arrived.


What is the definition of a collective noun?

A collective noun is a name that refers to a collection or group of people, things, or animals. The items of a collection noun share the same feature. Ex-army, jury, class, family, audience, etc.

Are collective nouns singular or plural?

Collective nouns are often used singularly. But when the items of a collective noun are focused on individually, not as a group or a unit, we consider it plural.

What are the 10 examples of collective nouns?

Here are 10 examples of common nouns: team, class, audience, crowd, army, couple, mob, society, jury, and staff.

Now, we know what a collective noun is and everything about it. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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