Definition of collective noun in English:

collective noun

noun

Grammar
  • A count noun that denotes a group of individuals (e.g. assembly, family, crew).

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some of the questions that the students had to answer were: What is the collective noun of dolphins, the last Ms. World from India, the Roman equivalent of Lord Karthikeya and so on.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the first place, it raises the issue of whether collective nouns like ‘committee’ are singular or plural, from the point of view of verb agreement as well as pronoun choice.’

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 …)

Pronunciation

collective noun