Collective nouns

collective nouns - a murmuration of starlings

a murmuration of starlings


Collective nouns are nouns which refer to a group or collection of people, animals, or things.

They’re followed by either a singular verb or a plural verb.

The use of a plural verb is more common/more acceptable in British/UK English.

And the use of the singular verb form is more common/more acceptable in the US.

For example:

The audience were delighted with the performance. (plural/UK)

The audience was delighted with the performance. (singular/US)


Common collective nouns



a government of politicians (‘government’ is the collective noun)

an army of soldiers (‘army’ is the collective noun)

a troupe of acrobats

a panel of experts

a crowd of people

a team of players

a choir of singers

a crew of sailors


Inanimate objects/things

collective nouns - a flight of steps

a flight of steps

a flight of stairs/steps

a block of flats

a row of houses

a fleet of cars

a pack of cards

a bunch of keys

a bunch of bananas



a pride of lions

a flock of birds

a flock of sheep

a swarm of bees

a clutch of eggs

a herd of cows/deer/elephants etc.

a gaggle of geese

a pack of dogs

a litter of kittens


These four wonderful collective nouns refer to groups of birds…

a murmuration of starlings

a murder of crows

a parliament of rooks (or owls)

and an unkindness of ravens


The great thing about collective nouns is that you can have some fun with them. Here are a few light-hearted and humorous collective nouns of uncertain provenance… šŸ™‚

an aroma of bakers

a mischief of mice

a scamper of children

a shiver of sharks

a kneeling of parishioners

a flap of nuns

a saunter of cowboys

a dampness of babies

a wiggle of wenches

a wobble of bicycles

an orchestra of crickets

and a happiness of larks

You can find more examples of real and fanciful collective nouns at


I’ll leave you with this beautiful murmuration of starlings, filmed by Dylan Winter…

Angela Boothroyd

Angela Boothroyd

Freelance writer, English language teacher, at Botanical Linguist
Hi, I'm Angela, the creator of the Botanical Linguist site. I'm a freelance writer, linguist, and qualified English language teacher. I specialize in writing online course content, and blog posts and articles about business, education, and the English language. Iā€™m also a writing coach for non-native users of English who want to blog better in English.
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd


  1. Hi Angela,

    Thank you for your interesting post, you explained it so clearly, as usual šŸ™‚

    I love murmuration of starlings. It is one of my things on my list I really want to see. I have seen mini ones, but would love to see a giant murmuration šŸ™‚
    Anita recently posted..Forever FatherMy Profile

    • Hi Anita šŸ™‚

      I love murmurations too. I have seen some big ones a couple of times here in Cornwall, and smaller but equally beautiful ones not far from where I live – they have a favourite spot near the road where they all like to congregate and I sometimes see them in big swooping flocks as I drive by. Very distracting – one day I’ll probably drive into the hedge šŸ˜€

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