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What are some common collective nouns?

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Quick Answer

Some common collective nouns include "board," "orchestra," "class" and "family." Collective nouns describe groups and usually take a singular verb, although there are times when a plural verb is used with a collective noun. Other collective nouns include "fleet," "colony," "herd" and "chain"; there are around 200 collective nouns in the English language.

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Full Answer

When determining whether a collective noun requires a singular or plural verb, it is helpful to look at whether the collective noun describes a single unit or a number of units within a group. For example, with the collective noun "family," it is correct to say "Tim's family are accountants." By contrast, if it is meant to say that the family has money, it would be correct to say "Tim's family is wealthy." The meaning of the sentence determines whether or not plural or singular verbs are used with the collective noun.

Some collective nouns are prepositional phrases, such as "swarm of ants," "unit of soldiers" and "yoke of oxen." In these examples, "swarm," "unit" and "yoke" are the collective nouns, so choosing which form of verb to use should be based on the actual collective noun instead of the full prepositional phrase.

Additional collective nouns include "gaggle," "murder," "bouquet," "stand," "pack" and "drove." Others include "cloth," "belt," "cloud" and "chain."

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