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Collective Noun

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The nouns they are terms that, in a sentence, can act as subject . It is, therefore, the names that refer to a being or an object. Collective , meanwhile, is an adjective that qualifies what is part or is linked to a group of individuals .

The collective nouns they have a particularity: they are those that, in their singular form, allude to a set of copies . This differentiates them from individual nouns , which only refer to a be or object.

Let's see how collective nouns work. "Fish" is a common noun and individual, which refers to a certain animal. The set of "fishes" it is known as "shoal": a collective noun. Thus, if someone reports that "There is a school on the coast", will be referring to a group of fish is in a particular coastal place.

It should be noted that collective nouns can also be expressed in the plural: "There are several schools on the coast". In this case, the expression reveals the presence of more than one group of fish.

A "Pack", on the other hand, is a set of "dogs". In this way, it is possible to say "A group of dogs broke the fence and attacked the cows" or “A pack broke the fence and attacked the cows”, indistinctly.

It is important to keep in mind that collective nouns do not always refer to living beings . "Hamlet" (a group of houses), "archipelago" (group of islands) and "teeth" (set of teeth) are also collective nouns.

The collective noun is a very important component of the language Spanish, although unfortunately this is not reflected in the frequency with which we use it when speaking; the main reason is that it is not easy to memorize this type of word, since does not usually bear any resemblance to the individual noun referred to (school, pack and archipelago they don't look like fish dog and island, for example).

But why don't collective nouns usually resemble their corresponding individuals? The answer is very simple: because of its etymology . Take the case of island and archipelago, two terms that serve to point out this difference very clearly. The first comes from the Latin word insulate, which has also given us "insulin" and "isolate", and is defined as a piece of land separated from the mainland by water.

Its collective noun, on the other hand, comes from the fusion of two Greek terms, those corresponding to "superior" and "sea". In its oldest references, dating from 1268, found in Latin documents, we see it in reference to the Aegean Sea, since its translation at that time was "main sea"; three centuries later, in our language, we can appreciate its use to denote a "set of islands. "

Avoiding the collective noun affects the quality of our oral communication, usually characterized by an excess of words and a lack of conciseness : while with the help of a collective noun we can summarize several terms in one and communicate with precision One concept, if we resort to an improvised definition of it, we can end up dirtying the message with unnecessary clarifications, in addition to reducing the impact it causes on the interlocutor.

But behind the shortage with which we find the collective noun in everyday speech it is possible that another factor is hidden, in addition to the lack of knowledge of each finished in particular: shame. Although it is difficult to accept it, many people fear using certain words or structures when communicating with their friends, for fear of being considered superb, to think they think they know more than themselves or have a much higher intellectual level.

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