Examples of Collective Nouns and How to Use Them

4 minute read

You may have found yourself hanging out in a group. Perhaps you are a member of a team, club or family. In addition to keeping us from being lonely, these groups are also referred to as collective nouns. 


A collective noun is a noun that describes a group of things, animals or people as a unit. For example, a flock of birds. 


There are three types of collective nouns:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Things


Today, we will share examples of collective nouns and how to use them well. 


Are collective nouns singular or plural?


To answer this question, consider which of the sentences below is correct:


❓The choir are performing to a sold-out venue this weekend. 

❓The choir is performing to a sold-out venue this weekend. 


By looking at the examples above, you can see that even though the choir represents multiple people, it is considered a singular unit. 


This would mean that the correct sentence is:


✅ The choir is performing to a sold-out venue this weekend.


Collective nouns function correctly when used as a single unit, corresponding to a singular verb (this is known as verb agreement). 


Here are some examples:


✅ The board is debating over the proposal. 

✅ My family is in the habit of cooking way too much food. 

✅ The flock of sheep is grazing in the meadow. 


Some collective nouns are always singular. For example: 


❌ Everyone are having a good time at the party. 

✅ Everyone is having a good time at the party. 


Other collective nouns make more sense as plural. For example: 


✅ The cattle are waiting to be fed. 

✅ The police are investigating the crime. 


In UK English, it’s all about context. If the members of the group are not acting in unison, it would make more sense to use a plural verb. For example: 


✅ The panel has made a decision. (This is correct because they have acted in unison)

✅ The panel are divided on the decision. (This is also correct, because the members of the panel are not acting in unison)


We recommend remaining consistent in your writing, even if the correct answer is ambiguous. Don’t mix and match singular and plural verbs:


❌ The committee has met multiple times this week to discuss their progress. 

✅ The committee has met multiple times this week to discuss its progress. 

✅ The committee have met multiple times this week to discuss their progress. 



Examples of collective nouns: People


🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A cast of actors

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A stack of librarians

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A choir of singers

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A board of directors

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A bunch of crooks

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A class of pupils

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A crew of sailors

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A gang of thieves

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A staff of employees

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 An army of soldiers

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A band of musicians

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A group of dancers

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A team of players

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A panel of experts

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A flock of tourists

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 An audience of listeners

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A crowd of spectators

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A complex of psychologists 

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A congregation of worshippers 

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A brace of dentists

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A crowd of onlookers 

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A formation of geologists 



Examples of collective nouns: Animals


🐐 A colony of gulls

🐐 A brood of hens

🐐 A group of guinea pigs

🐐 A kennel of dogs

🐐 A litter of cubs

🐐 A gang of weasels

🐐 A smack of jellyfish

🐐 A squad of squid

🐐 A swarm of eels

🐐 A troupe of shrimp

🐐 A knot of toads

🐐 A clew of worms

🐐 A culture of bacteria

🐐 A flight of butterflies

🐐 A cluster of spiders

🐐 A sloth of bears

🐐 A host of sparrows

🐐 A stud of horses

🐐 A shoal of fish

🐐 A team of oxen

🐐 A hive of bees

🐐 A nest of mice

🐐 A pack of wolves



Examples of collective nouns: Things


📚 A heap of rubbish

📚 A hedge of bushes

📚 A pack of cards

📚 A pair of shoes

📚 A quiver of arrows

📚 A reel of film

📚 A set of clubs

📚 A bouquet of flowers

📚 A bunch of keys

📚 A cluster of coconuts

📚 A block of flats

📚 An anthology of poems

📚 A flight of stairs

📚 A fleet of vehicles

📚 A string of pearls

📚 A basket of fruit

📚 A batch of bread

📚 A galaxy of stars

📚 A group of islands

📚 A forest of trees

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