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collective noun

Line breaks: col¦lect|ive noun

Definition of collective noun in English:

noun

Grammar
A count 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

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:

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