One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A noun that denotes a group of individuals (e.g., assembly, family, crew).
- ‘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.’
- ‘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 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.’
- ‘What these two would-be grammar gurus are talking about here is mass nouns, not collective nouns.’
- ‘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.’
Examples of collective nouns include group, crowd, family, committee, class, crew, and the like. In the US, collective nouns are usually followed by a singular verb (the crowd was nervous), while in Britain it is more common to follow a collective noun with a plural verb (the band were late for their own concert). Notice that if the verb is singular, any following pronouns must also be singular: the council is prepared to act, but not until it has taken a poll. When preceded by the definite article the, the collective noun number is usually treated as a singular (the number of applicants was beyond belief), whereas it is treated as a plural when preceded by the indefinite article a (a number of proposals were considered). See also number
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