mardi 16 décembre 2014

Top Tips Grammar: Collective nouns

Main points

*Singular nouns are used only in the singular, always with a determiner.
*Plural nouns are used only in the plural, some with a determiner.
*Collective nouns can be used with singular or plural nouns.

 

a) Some nouns are used in particular meaning in the singular with a determiner with a determiner, like count nouns, but are not used in the plural with that meaning. They are often called ‘singular nouns’.
Some of these nouns are normally used with ‘the’ because they refer to things that are unique.

air end sea world
country future seaside  
countryside ground sky  
dark moon sun  
daytime past wind  

- The sun was shining.
- I am scared of the dark.

Other singular nouns are normally used with ‘a’ because they refer to things that we usually talk about one at a time.

bath go ride snooze
chance jog run start
drink move shower walk
fight rest smoke wash

- I went upstairs and had a wash.
- Why don’t we go outside for a smoke?

 

b) Some nouns are used in particular meanings in the plural with or without determiners, like count nouns, but are not used in the singular with that meaning. They are often called ‘plural nouns’.

- His clothes looked terribly dirty.
- Troops are being sent in today.

Some of these nouns are always used with determiners.

activities feelings pictures travels
authorities likes sights  

- I went to the pictures with Tina.
- You hurt his feelings.

Some are usually used without determiners.

airs goods riches
expenses refreshments  

- Refreshments are available inside.
- They have agreed to pay for travel and expenses.

Remember that ‘Police’ is a plural noun, but does not end in ‘-s’.

- The police were informed immediately.



c) A small group of plural nouns refer to single items that have two linked parts. They refer to tools that people use or things that people wear.

binoculars scissors jeans shorts
pincers shears knickers tights
pliers tweezers pants trousers
scales glasses pyjamas  

- She was wearing brown trousers
- These scissors are sharp.

You can use ‘a pair of’ to make it clear you are talking about one item, or a number with ‘pair of’ when you are talking about several items.

- I was sent out to buy a pair of scissors.
- Liz had given me three pairs of jeans.

Note that you also use ‘a pair of’ with words such as ‘gloves’, ‘shoes’, and ‘socks’ that you often talk about in twos.

 

d) With some nouns that refer to a group of people or things, the same form can be used with singular or plural verbs, because you can think of the group as a unit or as individuals. Similarly, you can use singular or plural pronouns to refer back to them. These nouns are often called ‘collective nouns’.

army data government press
audience enemy group public
committe family herd staff
company flock media teams
crew gang navy  

- Out little group is complete again.
- The largest group are the boys.
- Our family isn’t poor anymore.
- My family are perfectly normal.

The names of many organizations and sports teams are also collective nouns, but are normally used with plural verbs in spoken English.

- The BBC is showing the programme on Saturday.
- The BBC are planning to use the new satellite.
- Sport Loreto is leading 1-0.
- Alianza Lima are attacking again.


 

 

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Top Tips Abz Ingles: Part A    -    Part B
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See also:

Words related to Failure to Cooperate Irregular Verbs list
Common Phrasal Verbs Common Slangs
Common misspellings Regular vs Irregular Verbs
Common Errors Frequently confused words
Common Slangs Lista de Términos Gramaticales
Common Clichés Common Prepositions

 

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