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Collective nouns

A collective noun is a noun that can be singular in form whilst referring to a

group of people or things. Collective nouns are sometimes confused with mass
Groups of people - army, audience, band, choir, class, committee, crew, family, gang, jury,
orchestra, police, staff, team, trio

Groups of animals - colony, flock, herd, pack, pod, school, swarm

Groups of things - bunch, bundle, clump, pair, set, stack

Agreement with Verbs

The rule to keep in mind is that Collective nouns are singular, so they must be paired with
singular verbs. This can be a bit counter-intuitive because we know that collective nouns
refer to groups of people and things. Remember, though, that grammatically speaking, they
are singular.

You wouldn't use a plural verb and say, “My family are big.” You would instead use a
singular verb and say, “My family is big.” Similarly, you would say, The local government
has a lot of great programs for children. In this sentence, the collective noun is government,
and we've correctly used a singular verb, has.

 For example: One girl has a book bag.

Two girls have book bags.
The singular verb is the one that goes with a singular noun, so we've confirmed here
that has, which goes with the singular subject one girl, is in fact a singular verb.
 Another example: The company hires a lot of diverse individuals.
Spot the collective noun in this sentence. It's company, and we've correctly paired it
with the singular verb hires here.

Don't be thrown off by the fact that hires ends with an s. Verbs that end in s are often singular,
even though plural nouns usually end in s.

Note that there is an exception to the rule that says that we must pair collective nouns with
singular verbs. When you refer to the members of a collective group as separate individuals,
use a plural verb in that sentence.
 Example: The team are putting on their helmets right now.
In this case, we know that the team as a collective group doesn't have one big head
and one big helmet to put on. By virtue of what's being talked about in this sentence,
we're talking about the team members as separate individuals, so it makes sense here
to use a plural verb with the collective noun team.

 Derived from a verb by adding the suffix -ing. The result is still a verb, and it exhibits
ordinary verbal properties (taking objects and adverbs).
- Example: In football, deliberately tripping an opponent is a foul.

Here the verb trip occurs in its gerund form tripping, but this tripping is still a verb.

It takes the adverb deliberately and the object an opponent. However, the entire
phrase deliberately tripping an opponent, because of the gerund within it, now functions as
a noun phrase, in this case as the subject of the sentence.

So, a gerund is still a verb, but the phrase built around it is nominal, not verbal.



 Eating people is wrong.

 Hunting tigers is dangerous.
 Flying makes me nervous.
 Brushing your teeth is important.
 Smoking causes lung cancer.



 One of his duties is attending meetings.

 The hardest thing about learning English is understanding the gerund.
 One of life's pleasures is having breakfast in bed.


The gerund must be used when a verb comes after a preposition. This is also true of certain
expressions ending in a preposition, for example the expressions in spite of & there's no point in.

 Can you sneeze without opening your mouth?

 She is good at painting.
 She avoided him by walking on the opposite side of the road.
 We arrived in Madrid after driving all night.
 My father decided against postponing his trip to Hungary.
 There's no point in waiting.
 In spite of missing the train, we arrived on time.


Phrasal verbs are composed of a verb + preposition or adverb.


 When will you give up smoking?

 She always puts off going to the dentist.
 He kept on asking for money.
 Jim ended up buying a new TV after his old one broke.

There are some phrasal verbs that include the word "to" as a preposition for example to look forward to, to take
to, to be accustomed to, to get around to, & to be used to. It is important to recognise that the word "to" is a
preposition in these cases because it must be followed by a gerund. It is not part of the infinitive form of the
verb. You can check whether "to" is a preposition or part of the infinitive. If you can put the pronoun "it" after
the word "to" and form a meaningful sentence, then the word "to" is a preposition and must be followed by a


 I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 I look forward to it.
 I am used to waiting for buses.
 I am used to it.
 She didn't really take to studying English.
 She didn't really take to it.
 When will you get around to mowing the grass?
 When will you get around to it?


In compound nouns using the gerund, it is clear that the meaning is that of a noun, not of a continuous verb. For
example, with the word "swimming pool" it is a pool for swimming in, it is not a pool that is swimming.


 I am giving Sally a driving lesson.

 They have a swimming pool in their back yard.
 I bought some new running shoes.
The gerund is necessary after the expressions can't help, can't stand, to be worth, & it's no use.


1. Add an "s" to form the plural of most nouns.
o zebra -- zebras
o piano -- pianos
o block -- blocks

2. If the word ends in any of the following hissing sounds: s, z, x, ch, or sh, add an "es"
to form the plural.
o zebra -- zebras
o piano -- pianos
3. If the word ends in a vowel plus "y", add "s".
o trolley – trolleys @ ray -- rays
o key -- keys

4. If the word ends in a consonant "y", change the "y" into an "ie" and add "s".
o baby – babies @ daisy -- daisies
o fairy -- fairies

5. If the word ends in "is" change the "is" to "es".

o synopsis – synopses @ thesis -- theses
o metastasis -- metastases

6. A few words that end in "fe" or "f" have plurals formed by "ves".
o wife – wives @ knife -- knives
o shelf – shelves @ elf -- elves

7. Words that end in "o" can often have two plural forms, but some can only have one
plural form. Consider the following guidelines:
o If the word ends in a vowel plus "o", just add a "s".
 stereo -- stereos
 imbroglio -- imbroglios
o If a musical term ends in "o", just add a "s".
 solo – solos @ piano -- pianos
 piccolo – piccolos @ cello -- cellos
o Some words can be formed with either a "s" or and "os".
 avocados/avocadoes @ cargos/cargoes
 innuendos/innuendoes @ lassos/lassoes
Note that the spell-check in most word processors will usually
recognize only one of these forms as legitimate, which is fine.
8. The plurals of numbers, single capital letters, or acronyms take a single "s" with no

 10s, Zs, ATMs