Collective Nouns – Practical and Whimsical

What do you call a group of whales? Is it a pod, a herd, a school, a gam or a plump?

Collective nouns are words for a group of people, animals or things.  Some are familiar and we use them regularly. They’re practical and useful. Family, team, and bunch are a few examples.

Some collective nouns are rarely used and mostly for the amusement of word enthusiasts. Word games and puzzles are where you’ll usually find a clowder of cats, a piddle of puppies and a glory of unicorns.

You can find a list of collective nouns in alphabetical order in the Wiktionary Glossary of collective nouns by collective term.

Verbs for Collective Nouns

When the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb is singular. When the subject of a sentence is plural, the verb is plural.

With collective nouns, it can be tricky. Some collective nouns are always singular and some are always plural. But, sometimes a singular collective noun expresses a plural idea and needs a plural verb. This can happen when all the members of a collective noun are acting as individuals and the group is not acting as a unit.

For a concise guideline with examples, read verb agreement with collective nouns from TERMIUM Plus.

Collective Nouns Quizzes

How about do you know about collective nouns? Try the following quizzes.

The collective noun quiz: Do you know your herds from your hordes?

Quiz: Collective Nouns

Quiz: Do you know these unusual animal group names?

Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns

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