Collective Nouns (Group Nouns)

There are many nouns in English. Nouns can either be singular or plural. It is usually easy to create plural nouns in English, but there are some exceptions. In this lesson, you will learn about collective nouns (group nouns).

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Nouns are words that name a person, place, thing, or idea.

Collective nouns are nouns that describe a group, for example: class, family, herd, couple. These can also be called group nouns.

There are about 200 collective nouns in English. When we use collective nouns, we often say "a group of ________," such as a herd of cattle or a clump of grass. But many collective nouns can also stand alone; for example, "We moved the herd to the new field."

Some collective nouns are different in other forms of English. The lists of collective nouns on this page are American English collective nouns.

Table of contents

Collective nouns: animals

Collective nouns: people

Collective nouns: things

Collective nouns: groups of animals

  • herd (of cattle; of buffalo; of antelope; of moose)

  • school (of fish)

  • gaggle (of geese)

  • colony (of bats; of ants)

  • litter (of kittens; of puppies)

  • swarm (of bees)

  • pack (of wolves; of coyotes)

  • bed (of oysters)

  • army (of ants)

  • flock (of birds; of sheep)

flock of birds

List of collective nouns describing groups of animals

Pinterest graphic

Collective nouns: groups of people

  • group

  • crowd

  • gang (of men)

  • squad

  • faculty (of teachers)

  • colony

  • onlookers

  • audience

  • jury

  • team

  • army

  • troupe

  • company

  • corporation

  • class (of students; of graduates)


List of collective nouns describing groups of people

Collective nouns: groups of things

  • bushel (of apples)

  • range (of mountains)

  • bunch (of grapes)

  • bundle (of sticks; of newspapers)

  • pile (of papers; of books; of magazines; of leaves)

  • belt (of asteroids)

  • cluster (of desks; of computers; of stars)

  • rack (of ribs)

  • pair (of shoelaces; of shoes; of pants; of glasses)

  • flight (of stairs)

  • pack (of cigarettes; of gum)

  • packet (of information)

  • roll (of pennies; of quarters)

  • bale (of hay; of wool)

  • deck (of cards)

deck of cards

List of collective nouns describing groups of things

Are collective nouns singular or plural?

Collective nouns are usually singular because they refer to a single group of animals, people, or things. American English speakers almost always use singular verbs with collective nouns.

However, many collective nouns can be used as singular OR plural depending on how they are used in a sentence. Unfortunately, there are no good rules for knowing if a collective noun should be used as a singular noun or a plural noun.

Here is one way to decide if a collective noun is singular or plural.

Singular collective nouns

When members of the group of a collective noun do things as one group or team, the collective noun is singular.

Substitute the word it for the collective noun. If it makes sense, use a singular verb.

  • class => The class is watching a movie. (It is watching a movie.)

  • herd => The herd moves fast. (It moves fast.)

  • United States => The United States celebrates Christmas in December. (It celebrates Christmas in December.)

  • committee => The committee chooses the new secretary. (It chooses the new secretary.)

  • family => The family takes a picture. (It takes a picture.)


Plural collective nouns

When members of the group of a collective noun do things as individuals, the collective noun is plural.

Substitute they for the collective noun. If they sounds correct, use a plural verb.


  • police => The police protect the people. (They protect the people.)

  • people => The people watch the parade. (They watch the parade.)

  • committee => The committee vote for the new secretary. (They vote for the new secretary.)

  • family => My family are always fighting amongst themselves. (They are always fighting amongst themselves.)

    woman yellingman yelling

In American English, most native speakers only use singular verbs with collective nouns.

In British English, plural and singular verbs are possible.

Practice plural noun rules with
English Plural Nouns Worksheets.

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