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  • Susan "Zuzu" Skelly

Group Nouns (a.k.a. Collective Nouns)

Group nouns give a lot of learners seriously big headaches. But they don’t have to! To keep yourself a little more headache-free, keep reading. What are they? Group nouns refer to a group of people.


Family Team Crowd Class Audience Population Gang Minority Orchestra Staff Jury Herd

Do they take singular or plural verb forms?

In American English (AmE), most group nouns take singular verb forms.

We would say:

The population has increased by 8%.

Our class has a lot of fun!

The audience is cheering loudly.

My team has won! WOO!

My whole family was there that day.

The group consists of twelve red dogs and six green dogs.

In British English (BrE), most collective nouns can take singular or plural verb forms.

They might say:

The whole family was there. / The whole family were there.

The government is working on it. / The government are working on it.

In both AmE and BrE, cattle, police and people are always used with a plural verb.

Cattle are able to walk around freely here.

The police are being evaluated.

People are very worried about it.

In both AmE and BrE, we can use plural verbs to focus on the feelings of individual group members, though this is more common in BrE.

The team are divided in their feelings.

Staff are showing mixed feelings about it.

The crowd were pleased.

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