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CHAPTER 7 – Definition – Collective noun – Nom collectif

collective noun (un nom collectif in French) is a word (noun) that, despite being in the singular form, represents a group of entities (people, animals or things), thus highlighting its plurality.

For example, the nouns une foule (crowd) or un groupe (group)  or un troupeau (cattle) are collective nouns.

Collective nouns can be used on their own (see examples above) or with a complement as in the following:

  • une foule de personnes / a crowd of people)
  • un groupe de chanteurs / (a groupe of singers)
  • un troupeau de vaches / a herd of cows 

In French, verbs employed with collective nouns can be in the singular or plural forms depending on whether the speaker focuses on the group itself or on the various elements within the group.