Definition of collective noun in English:

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collective noun

Pronunciation: /kəˈlektiv noun/


A noun that denotes a group of individuals (e.g., assembly, family, crew).
Example sentences
  • What these two would-be grammar gurus are talking about here is mass nouns, not collective nouns.
  • In American usage, a collective noun takes a singular verb when it refers to the collection considered as a whole, as in The family was united on this question.
  • I've always thought of elite as a collective noun - when people talk about ‘an elite,’ I assume they're referring to particular group and not simply a person who has elite characteristics.


Examples of collective nouns include group, crowd, family, committee, class, crew, and the like. In the US, collective nouns are usually followed by a singular verb ( the crowd was nervous), while in Britain it is more common to follow a collective noun with a plural verb ( the band were late for their own concert). Notice that if the verb is singular, any following pronouns must also be singular: the council is prepared to act, but not until it has taken a poll. When preceded by the definite article the, the collective noun number is usually treated as a singular ( the number of applicants was beyond belief), whereas it is treated as a plural when preceded by the indefinite article a ( a number of proposals were considered). See also number (usage).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: col·lec·tive noun

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