1) Choose the right word.
- A _______ of playing cards.
- a) flock b) pack
- A shoal of ______
- a) fish b) birds
- A _____ of keys.
- a) bunch b) group
- A ______ of events.
- a) group b) series
- A choir of ______.
- a) singers b) painters
- An army of _____
- a) ants b) birds
- A pack of ______
- a) cats b) dogs
- A swarm of ______.
- a) bears b) bees
- A herd of ______
- a) elephants b)lions
- A bunch of _____
- a) apples b) bananas
2) Write down the collective noun and the correct verb choice that will agree with the collective noun.
- The class (describes, describe) their vacations.
- The whole class (meet, meets) at 3 PM.
- The family (takes, take) a trip to Houghton Lake, Michigan.
- The chess club (compare, compares) their strategies so as to win the tournament.
- The swarm of reporters (engulfs, engulf) the famous actor all at once.
- The audience (cheer, cheers) the winner of the million dollars.
- The orchestra (performs, perform) my favorite music.
- The baseball team (practice, practices) together every evening.
- The public (support, supports) the travel baseball league.
- The crowd (moves, move) to their favorite places along the parade route.
3) Fill in the blank in each sentence with the correct collective noun from the word bank.
band herd stack deck school swarm flock team
- A ____________ of bees flew out of the bush.
- My teacher graded a ______________ of papers.
- The dolphin swam with a ____________ of fish.
- The horse ______________ ran free on the prairie.
- We saw a ______________ of birds in the sky.
- The soccer ______________ won the game.
- A _____________ of musicians played on the street.
- There are 52 cards in a ___________________.
4) Underline the collective noun
- We lost the ring in the orchestra
- We saw a herd of goats lying over there.
- The committee will meet again on Sunday.
- A flock of ducks swam across the lake.
- The audience applauded with a joy.
- We bought a bunch of white roses for Ms. Brown.
- The whole gang was caught yesterday.
- Our government takes care of us.
5) Choose the right word
- a _______ of elephants
- a) pack b) herd c) flock d) swarm
- a ________ of cattle
- a) pack b) herd c) flock d) swarm
- a _______ of sheep
- a) pack b) herd c) flock d) shoal
- a _______ of bees
- a) gang b) cloud c) batch d) swarm
- a ________ of fish
- a) swarm b) cloud c) shoal d) wave
- a ________ of playing cards
- a) series b) pack c) panel d) crowd
- a ______ of grapes
- a) bundle b) bouquet c) bunch d) band
- a _______ of islands
- a) bundle b) crowd c) pile d) group
- a ______ of events
- a) link b) series c) line d) pile
- a ______ of wolves
- a) herd b) swarm c) gang d) pack
- a ______ of keys
- a) group b) hand c) bunch d) roll
- a _______ of thieves
- a) troupe b) gaggle c) gang d) flock
Collective nouns are words like family, team, committee, government, audience and etc. In British English a collective noun can be used either with singular or plural verbs and pronouns. Plural forms are preferred when the group is considered as a collection of people doing personal things. Singular forms are common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit. I’d like to mention that these collective nouns are not based in scientific thought or fact. Most of them come from the poetry and imagination of early to late Medieval English times e.g. – an eloquence of lawyers – Eloquence itself is defined as fine persuasion in speaking or writing, so this particular collective noun is a comment on the profession of lawyers while being their collective noun as well.
The same goes for the collective nouns we find for animals; the names arose from 15th century French and English hunting traditions, where hunting was common and names and terms were given to all aspects of the sport. These names were called Terms of Venery and it had become a tradition of the court to keep extending the list and by the 1500s the list was up-to 165 items long.
In addition to what has been said it’s also important to note that nouns in the collective class can be used in either the singular or plural form depending on the context of the sentence. For example, family is a collective noun because it refers to more than one person sharing a relationship or camaraderie. However, you can also use this as a plural in referring to groups of families. Using collective nouns in sentences can be confusing because it’s sometimes difficult to discern whether to use plural or singular verbs and pronouns. To use verbs and pronouns correctly, identify whether the collective noun refers to a group or unit working as individuals or in unison. When the unit is acting in unison, it is appropriate to use the singular. When the members of the unit are acting as individuals, it is appropriate to use plural forms of verbs and pronouns.
There is another point to be added that many singular nouns have very unique collective forms that pertain specifically to that term. While most people are familiar with the more commonly used collectives such as a class of students or crowd of people, there are a large number of less common collectives. Many people find it interesting to read and learn what the appropriate collective forms of various nouns are. Many teachers, students, and other lovers of the English language also find it entertaining to list original collectives or come up with new ways to use them in fun or ironic ways.