A Look at collective nouns

Collective nouns represent groups  of persons, places and things that act as a single unit  or entity. (By the way, if you need an overview of the different types of nouns, click here).

This is not difficult, but if you're learning English as a second language there are probably many new vocabulary words for you. Here are some common collective nouns:


a group of people who give advice to a government leader.


a group of singers, especially in a church.


a large group of people that come together somewhere.


a group of ships or vehicles that move together or are owned by a company


a group of people that compete in a sport against another group of people; a group of people that work together.


a large military group; a group of people who are involved in an activity.


a group of animals (this is used for only certain animals: e.g., cattle, horses, elephants).


a group of birds (e.g., birds, seagulls, geese) or animals (this is used for only certain animals: e.g., sheep)


a group of people related to each other (e.g., mother, father, sister)


a group of jurists (people who judge or evaluate something)


a group of people working together (e.g., on a ship, plane, train, film)


a group of people who watch or listen to a performance.


a group of people who make changes for a government, a group of people gathered together.


a group of people who play music together.


a group of teachers in a school or university.


a group of people who live together in an area controlled by a government.


a group of people who are selected to do a job or make decisions about something.


a group of students who study together or graduate together.


a group of musicians who are directed by a conductor.

American versus British English

In American English, collective nouns use the singular form with verbs. That is because we consider collective nouns as a single unit (or collection of things).

My favorite team plays today.  (NOT my favorite team play  today).

  • The band plays at the arena on Saturday.
  • That family is very large.
  • The choir sings gospel music at church.

However, in British English, they often use the plural  form.

NOTE: There are plural forms of collective nouns. For example, one team, two teams (two different groups of players).

  • The top teams play today. (NOT the top teams plays  today)

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