- 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.
A collective noun can be used with either a singular verb ( my family was always hard-working) or a plural verb ( his family were disappointed in him). Generally speaking, in Britain it is more usual for collective nouns to be followed by a plural verb, while in the US the opposite is true. Notice that, if the verb is singular, any following pronouns must be too: the government is prepared to act, but not until it knows the outcome of the latest talks (not ... until they know the outcome ...).
For editors and proofreaders
Line breaks: col¦lect|ive noun
Definition of collective noun in:
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