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collective nouns in the plural


I've come to notice that most courses don't seem to accept collective nouns such as family, generation, group, majority etc... in the plural.

does anyone else notice this? For me it's much more common to say the majority are right than the majority is right. I accept that both are correct but I generally use collective nouns in the plural.

Just me?

January 18, 2016

1 Comment


It depends on the context. If I'm talking about my family as a whole, for example, then I use it as a singular noun. "My family is very nice". If I'm referring to all the members of my family, I will use it as plural. "My family are coming to dinner on Friday." (implying that the different family members live in different places, or will come at different times) I do the same for all collective nouns.

When I'm teaching, I generally tell my students that collective nouns are singular. I see no point in needlessly complicating things for them. If one of my students notices the plural usage, I will explain it at that time. I can then explain the context and why it is being used in that way.

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