Concrete, Abstract, & Collective Nouns
Collective nouns are nouns that refer to things or people as a unit. Collective nouns can be used in both the singular form and the plural form.
・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
Collective Noun Singular or Plural?
A collective noun can be singular or plural depending on the sense of the sentence. In the first example below, the shoal is considered as one unit. Therefore, 'shoal' is considered singular. However, in the second example, the shoal is considered as lots of individuals, and 'shoal' is considered plural.
1. The shoal was moving north.
(singular - considered as one unit)
2.The shoal were darting in all directions.
(plural - considered as individuals)
Singular Collective Noun
1. Singular collective nouns refer to one unit of people or things.
2. Singular collective nouns are used like singular nouns.
Plural Collective Nouns
1. Plural collective nouns refer to two or more units of people or things.
2. Plural collective nouns are used like plural nouns.
[The audience has arrived. ] (Singular form)
[The audience have arrived.] (Plural form)
Whether a collective noun, which is singular in form, is used with a singular orplural verb depends on whether the word is referring to the group as a unit or to its members as individuals.
In American English, a collective noun naming an organization regarded as a unit is usually treated as singular:
・The corporation is holding its annual meeting.
・The team is having a winning season.
・The government has taken action.
In British English, such nouns are commonly treated as plurals:
・The corporation are holding their annual meeting.
・The team are playing well.
・The government are in agreement.
When a collective noun naming a group of persons is treated as singular, it is referred to by the relative pronoun that or which:
・His crew is one that (or which) works hard.
When such a noun is treated as plural, the pronoun is who:
・His crew are specialists who volunteered for the project.
In formal speech and writing, collective nouns are usually not treated as both singularand plural in the same sentence:
・The enemy is fortifying its (not their) position.
・The enemy are bringing up their heavy artillery.
When the collective nouns couple and pair refer to people, they are usually treated asplurals:
・The newly married couple have found a house near good transportation.
・The pair are busy furnishing their new home.
The collective noun number, when preceded by a, is treated as a plural:
・A number of solutions were suggested.
When preceded by the, it is treated as a singular:
・ The number of solutions offered was astounding.
Other common collective nouns are class, crowd, flock, panel, committee, group, audience, staff, and family.
What is an abstract noun?
An abstract noun is a noun that you cannot sense, it is the name we give to an emotion, ideal or idea.
They have no physical existence, you can't see, hear, touch, smell or taste them.
The opposite of an abstract noun is a concrete noun.
Abstract nouns are nouns that:
・Abstract nouns are any nouns that can't be touched, tasted, seen, heard or smelt or felt.
・Abstract nouns usually represent feeling, ideas and qualities.
・Abstract nouns can be singular nouns and plural nouns.
・Abstract nouns can be countable or uncountable.
Common Abstract Nouns
What is a concrete noun?
A concrete noun is the name of something or someone that we experience through our senses, sight, hearing, smell, touch or taste.
Most nouns are concrete nouns. The opposite of a concrete noun is an abstract noun.
Concrete nouns can be:
・countable nouns or uncountable nouns
・singular nouns or plural nouns
・common noun or proper nouns
Countable Concrete Nouns
chair, computer, song, window etc.
chairs, computers, songs, windows etc.
Uncountable Concrete Nouns
water, air, oil, sugar, salt, rice, cheese etc.
Mr. Mike Jones, Tom Brown, Audrey Ryan etc.