English Grammar and Exercises for ESL learners.
(collective and compound nouns in English)
Collective nouns are names for a group of individuals or a number of animals, places, things,
objects, concepts or ideas, for example:
a herd of elephants, a range of mountains, a gang of thieves, a pack of cards, a board of directors.
Words like army, audience, band, committee, crew, crowd, flock, herd, hive, public, staff, team
are examples of collective nouns.
These nouns take a singular verb when we think of the group as an entity :
- The audience was enthusiastic.
- Our team is definitely the best.
- The jury is deliberating.
- The crew are all wearing their new uniform.
Compound nouns (or compound words) result from the merging of two words. These are
very common in English and new combinations are invented almost every day.
Compound nouns normally consist of two or three parts, for example washing machine.
The second part (machine) identifies the object or person.
The first part (washing) tells us what sort of object or person it is, or what its purpose is.
The parts that compose a compound noun can be, for example :
- two nouns (notebook, toothbrush, motorcycle)
- an adjective and a noun (greenhouse, blackboard, software)
- a noun and a verb (rainfall, sunshine, haircut)
- a verb and an adverb (drawback, takeover)
- an adverb and a verb (outbreak, overthrow, input)
- the gerund form of a verb (-ing) with a noun (washing machine, swimming pool)
- separate words (ex: orange juice, real estate, post office, car park),
- words linked by a hyphen (mother-in-law, washing-up, check-in)
- or one word (notebook, classroom, football, bedroom, toothpaste).
separate words. For example:
- a greenhouse (compound noun) is a place where we grow plants.
- a green house (adjective and noun) is simply a house painted green.