How to Use Collective Nouns for Groups of People

Collective Nouns for People

Chances are you use collective nouns regularly. So what are there?

Collective nouns are special nouns that are used for groups, usually groups of people.

Because they describe groups with many members, the words sound like they should be plural.

However, in American English, they are actually singular!

For this reason, many non-native English speakers are confused by collective nouns.

For example, why do we say, “My family eats together every night” if my family consists of six people?

That’s because family is a collective noun and we are describing the group, which is one entity, or one thing.

Please remember that American English works differently than British English with regards to collective nouns.

American English almost always treats collective nouns as singular, which means you should use the third person singular verb ending with them (the final -s).

In British English, there is more flexibility and you can use either the singular or plural form, depending on your intended meaning (more information here).

Here are some of the most common collective nouns used with groups of people:

  • audience
  • board
  • class
  • committee
  • company
  • corporation
  • council
  • crowd
  • department
  • faculty
  • family
  • firm
  • majority
  • minority
  • group
  • public
  • society
  • team

To sound more natural in American English, make sure you follow these collective nouns with a singular verb form.

Your Turn

Give it a try below by leaving a comment with an example sentence!

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