Welcome back to the Easy English blog! Do you know what a collective noun is? A noun is a person, place, or thing, but you probably already know that! A collective noun is one that refers to a group, even though the noun is singular, not plural! It’s easy because you can refer to many things with one word, but it’s tricky (hard, difficult) because it looks like it is in a singular form without an “s” at the end. We say “a pack” or “an army” which looks like a singular noun (with no “s”) but it really means a large group of people.
I’ll show you what I mean.
Maybe you have used a collective noun before but didn’t know what they were called? In any case, here are some collective nouns to try! They’ll help improve your vocabulary and to be more accurate in your verb-noun agreement (He/she/it + verb(s)).
An army of soldiers
Soldiers are referred to as an army. This can also mean soldiers in the navy or air force (if you’re keeping it simple.)
For example: The army of soldiers is marching across the field. (Notice IS, not ARE, is the correct verb. The flock is the subject of the sentence and it is a singular noun like all our examples!)
A pack of thieves
Much like a group of dogs, a group of thieves (robbers, people who steal) is called a pack. Could it be because they stick (stay) together? What do you think?
For example: The pack of thieves stole the world’s largest diamond.
A flock of tourists
Do you remember we wrote about a flock of birds in our second proverbs blog last week? Flock is the same collective noun is used for tourists! Sometimes the same words for groups of animals are used for people, too.
For example: The flock of tourists was taking pictures of the Coliseum.
A panel of experts
You might see a panel of experts on a news program on TV. It’s usually when a show wants many opinions about something. They’ll ask questions to multiple (many) people who are experts (professionals) in that field. Those experts are called a panel!
For example: The panel of experts has commented on the presidency.
A hive of bees
Bees live in a hive. So it makes sense to use the collective noun hive to refer to a large group of bees! Hopefully you won’t bother a hive of bees. We don’t want you to get stung!
For example: The hive of bees was buzzing in the tree.
A litter of puppies/kittens
When animals are born in a group, they’re usually called a litter. It’s now spring (yay!!), so be prepared (ready) for lots of litters!
For example: Look! The litter of kittens is playing together in the garden!
A herd of deer
When there are many deer in one place, they’re called a herd. Don’t startle (scare) the herd, as they may run away! This collective noun is used also with zebras, sheep, and cattle.
For example: The herd of deer was grazing in the field.
A galaxy of stars
We live in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is the proper name for our group of stars. Stars in these types of groups are called galaxies. Would you ever like to travel to another galaxy?
For example: The galaxy of stars shines bright in the night sky.
A pack of lies
Has anyone ever lied a lot to you? Then they were telling you a pack of lies. Do you think a pack of thieves would tell a pack of lies?
For example: The politician told a pack of lies and he cannot be trusted.
A pair of shoes
A pair usually refers to two things that go together. So two shoes (that match!) would be a pair of shoes.
For example: She couldn’t find the pair of shoes she wanted to wear.
What else comes in pairs? A pair of pants. A pair of tickets (two tickets). A pair of jeans. A pair of twos (in poker!). Can you think of anything else?
Do you have a favorite collective noun? Did you learn something new with this Easy English blog?Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Erin Duffin lives in Berlin (but not for long!), is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and finds the efficiency of a collective noun very satisfying!