Collective, Countables, Uncountable Nouns on GMAT

In this short video, understand the concept of collective, countable, and uncountable nouns from the perspective of GMAT sentence correction questions.

Collective, Countables, Uncountable Nouns on GMAT

Subject verb agreement is one of the most basic and important concepts that you must master, to tackle GMAT sentence correction, and in order to do so, you will need to understand the grammatical rules governing the number of certain specific types of nouns. These nouns, always maintain the same number, regardless of the context. In this article, we will cover the nature of collective, countable, and uncountable nouns, on the GMAT

Collective Nouns are Always Singular

Collective nouns are those nouns that are used to refer to a group of singular nouns, as a collective entity; as such, collective nouns are always singular. Let us illustrate this concept, through the following example:

Example 1 – The government has failed to perform.
In this sentence, the singular verb “has” is used to refer to the government; this is because, while a government may be comprised of many individuals and organizations, as a collective noun it is singular.

Example 2 – The team is doing well.
Similarly, in this example, the collective noun “team” is referred to with the singular verb “is” because while a team may be comprised of many people, the team itself is singular.

Along the same lines, nouns such as class, group, orchestra, crowd, jury, army, faculty, mob, herd, etc. are all singular entities that are comprised of multiple individuals and will be referred to with singular verbs.

Countable Nouns are Plural Uncountable Nouns are Singular

Countable nouns are generally plural and uncountable nouns are singular. Let us illustrate this concept, through the following examples:

Example 3 – Hair has grown.
Multiple strands of hair can be singular but “hair” as an entity is singular, as it is not countable; if we ever refer to “hair” with a number, we use it in the context of a strand of hair.

Example 4 – Few coins are old.
By contrast, in this sentence, “coins” is referred to by the plural verb “are” because “coins” is a countable noun and, therefore, plural.

Example 5 – Some money is needed.
Money is considered an uncountable noun; when we refer to money with a specific number, we refer to a number of a particular currency denomination, not the abstract concept of wealth. Thus, the noun “money” is like the noun “wealth”, it is uncountable.

Please note that “few” is used for countable nouns and “little” is used for countable nouns, while “some” can be used for both.

Keeping these subtle distinctions in mind will help you in your GMAT sentence correction by enabling you to identify answer choices wherein the incorrect verb form has been used. This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Sentence Correction videos.

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