Share this entry

Share this page

collective noun

Syllabification: col·lec·tive noun

Definition of collective noun in English:

noun

Grammar
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.

Usage

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).

Definition of collective noun in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day resilient
Pronunciation: rɪˈzɪlɪənt
adjective
able to recoil or spring back into shape…