- 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 ...).
Definition of collective noun in:
- The US English dictionary