Word Games

What is the noun that names a group of persons of things?

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April 17, 2007 6:31PM

A collective noun is one that indicates a group. It can be a

proper noun, such as the Congress of the United States of

America or the Supreme Court or New York Yankees,

or it may be a simple noun, such as legislature, jury, or

team. Other collective nouns: family, majority (as of

people), management, workforce, and faculty. Care

should be taken when choosing a verb to go with collective nouns.

They can take singular or plural nouns, depending on how they are

used in the sentence. When the collective noun is thought of as

acting as a whole, it should take a singular verb; when the

individual members of a group are thought of as acting

independently, then use a plural verb. For example: The jury is

deliberating. (Acting as a unit, collective noun takes a

singular verb) The jury are taking their seats. (Acting as

individuals, collective noun takes plural verb) Beware: many

readers will be uncomfortable with plural verbs with collective

nouns. For example, "The jury are taking their seats" will sound

weird to many readers, even though it is grammatically correct. It

may be better to write "The jurors are taking their seats" or "The

jury members are taking their seats."


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