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01/18/2018

Introduction to сollective nouns

By way of introduction it will be natural to stress that the noun is an important part of speech that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action and can function as the subject or object of a verb, the object of a preposition, or an appositive. It is common knowledge that there are many types of nouns that can be used in the English language. (Proper Nouns, common nous, countable nouns, uncountable nouns, collective nouns, abstract nouns, concrete nouns). My work is fully concerned with collective nouns, the most interesting ones from my point of view.

It’s necessary to point out right from the beginning that collective nouns are nouns that refer to groups consisting of more than one individual or entity, even when they are inflected for the singular. Examples include committee, herd, and school (of fish). These nouns have slightly different grammatical properties than other nouns. For example, the noun phrases that they head can serve as the subject of a collective predicate, even when they are inflected for.

Collective noun is the name we give to a group of nouns to refer to them as one entity. The most common method of doing this is by using words like group or bunch that can be applicable to most of the nouns in the language today. But there are some specific names given for certain groups of nouns to make things more interesting and funny.

The theme of my work is up-to-date and relevant nowadays and has a great importance in everyone’s life. It is important mainly for students who study English language. Every day we use nouns in our speech to express thoughts and emotions.

My work aims at studying collective nouns, their usage in the language and grammatical peculiarities.

The structure of this work consists in “Introduction”, “The noun – as a part of speech”, “Collective nouns”, “Metonymic merging of grammatical number”, “Terms of venery (words for groups of animals)”.

The Noun

A noun is a word that functions as the name of some specific thing or set of things, such as living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas. Linguistically, a noun is a member of a large, open part of speech whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.

Nouns have a certain classification:

Proper nouns and common nouns A proper noun or proper name is a noun representing unique entities (such as Earth, India, Jupiter, Harry, or BMW), as distinguished from common nouns which describe a class of entities (such as city, animal, planet, person or car).

Countable and uncountable nouns Count nouns or countable nouns are common nouns that can take a plural, can combine with numerals or counting quantifiers (e.g., one, two, several, every, most), and can take an indefinite article such as a or an (in languages which have such articles). uncountable nouns differ from count nouns in precisely that respect: they cannot take plurals or combine with number words or the above type of quantifiers. For example, it is not possible to refer to a furniture or three furnitures. This is true even though the pieces of furniture comprising furniture could be counted.

Collective nouns are nouns that refer to groups consisting of more than one individual or entity, even when they are inflected for the singular. Examples include committee, herd, and school (of fish). These nouns have slightly different grammatical properties than other nouns. For example, the noun phrases that they head can serve as the subject of a collective predicate, even when they are inflected for.

Concrete nouns and abstract nouns

Concrete nouns refer to physical entities that can, in principle at least, be observed by at least one of the senses (for instance, chair, apple, Janet or atom). Abstract nouns, on the other hand, refer to abstract objects; that is, ideas or concepts (such as justice or hatred).

In linguistics, a collective noun is a collection of things taken as a whole. For example, in the phrase “a pride of lions”, pride is a collective noun.

Collective nouns denote a group of people, objects, ideas, or animals as a single concept. Though the collective noun refers to more than one in a group, the noun itself is considered a single thing. However, they can be used as either singular of plural. It all depends on the sentence. Trying to decide which form to use can get confusing because you have to use the correct verb and pronoun forms, too. One way to make it a little easier is to determine if the collective noun is referring to a unit working as individuals or if they are working together in unison.

Most collective nouns in everyday speech for example, such as “group”, are not specific to a kind of object. For example, the terms “group of people”, “group of dogs”, and “group of ideas” are all correct uses. Others, especially words belonging to the large subset of collective nouns known as terms of venery (words for groups of animals), are specific to one kind of constituent object. For example, “pride” as a term of venery refers to lions, but not to dogs or cows.

Collective nouns are used to describe a group or collection of individuals. This includes groups of people, animals and inanimate objects. They have developed throughout the history of the English language, with new collective nouns still being created, although time will tell if these latest additions will survive (“an array of geeks”).

Many of the collective nouns for animals were developed by the British upper classes in the medieval period to serve the dual purposes of helping with hunting and to differentiate themselves from the working classes.

There are around 200 collective nouns in the English language. Sometimes they take a singular verb, but other times they take a plural verb. The most important thing to realize is that there are no hard and fast rules here, only trends. Usually, which verb you use depends on two things: whether you consider the collective noun to be a single unit or to be made up of individuals, and whether you’re American or British.

Singular or Plural Verbs?

I’d like to use the collective noun “couple” to illustrate a good example of the rule. When you are thinking of the couple as two separate people doing separate things, you would probably use a plural verb. For example, you would say, “The couple are vacationing separately this year” because they are two different people doing two different things. On the other hand, if you are thinking of the couple as a single unit, you would probably use a singular verb. For example, you would say, “Each couple is going to Bermuda on a different day.”

Here is another example. I’d like to give consideration to the use of the word “family.” Before turning to the main point it might be useful to exemplify 2 sentences:

  1. a) “Jack’s family is rich”
  2. b) “Jack’s family are rich”

It’s universally true that both variants are right but many learners of English language wonder whether to use a plural form after the word family or a singular one. In this case, it does not matter what comes after the verb; it just matters what idea you are trying to get across. I suppose in my example, I would prefer “is” because it seems we are talking about one family, one unit. The other situation is when we change an adjective “rich” with a noun “bankers”. In this case, it brings us to the idea that we should use “are” because it seems that we are referring to a bunch of separate individuals.

There are also some interesting facts concerning a prepositional phrase that comes after a collective noun that is the subject of a sentence. For example, if you’re talking about “a large group of students,” “group” is the collective noun and the subject of the sentence; however, it’s easy to get distracted by the prepositional phrase “of students” because it sounds plural. The thing to remember is that the verb agrees with the subject of the sentence – “a large group” and not with the prepositional phrase that modifies the subject. In cases like this, you should ignore the prepositional phrase “of students” and take into consideration the real subject: “a large group.”

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