Grammar Tips (#8): Collective nouns

Just like English, Portuguese has a series of nouns that are used in the singular but in reference to a group of people, animals or things; Portuguese grammar calls them [os] nomes cole(c)tivos. While you don’t run into a swarm of bees, a herd of cows or a fruit orchard everyday (unless you’re in the agriculture business, that is), getting a list of these nouns is always a good way of learning new vocabulary and making associations between words, which I find the best way to remain engaged in the language you’re learning.

#1: Here is a list of common collective nouns:

In the list, you’ll see the collective name first, followed by an English translation/explanation and then the common noun they’re associated with (the name of the individuals in each group).

While perusing the list, please pay attention to the gender of both words, since a collective noun doesn’t necessarily share the same etymology as the common noun it refers to, and therefore they may not share a gender.

  • [a] alcateia (pack of wolves) – [o] lobo
  • [a] armada (group of war ships) – [o] navio (de guerra)
  • [o] arquipélago (archipelago, a group of islands) – [a] ilha
  • [o] bando (flock of birds or group of troublesome individuals) – [o] pássaro / [a] ave
  • [a] biblioteca (library, group of books) – [o] livro
  • [a] cáfila (group of camels) – [o] camelo
  • [o] cardume (school of fish) – [o] peixe
  • [a] constelação (constellation) – [a] estrela
  • [o] coro (choir) – [o] cantor
  • [o] elenco (cast, a group of actors) – [o] a(c)tor / [a] a(c)triz
  • [o] enxame (swarm of bees) – [a] abelha
  • [a] esquadra (group of ships) – [o] navio
  • [o] exército (army, group of soldiers) – [o] soldado
  • [a] frota (group of ships, trucks/lorries or buses) – [o] barco, [o] camião, [o] autocarro
  • [a] junta [de bois] (two oxen connected by a yoke)
  • [a] manada (group of wild oxen, horses, elephants or buffalo, or any large animal)
  • [a] matilha (pack of dogs) – [o] cão
  • [a] multidão (crowd of people) – [a] pessoa
  • [a] ninhada (litter, recently born animals)
  • [o] olival (group of olive trees) – [a] oliveira
  • [o] pinhal (group of pine trees) – [o] pinheiro
  • [o] pomar (orchard) – [a] árvore de fruto
  • [a] quadrilha (group of thieves) – [o] ladrão
  • [o] rebanho (flock of sheep) – [a] ovelha (ewe)
  • [a] réstia (group of onions or garlic stalks tied in a braid) – [a] cebola / [o] alho
  • [a] seara (field used to grow cereal) – [os] cereais
  • [o] souto (group of chestnut trees) – [o] castanheiro
  • [a] turma (class, a group of students) – [o] aluno
  • [a] vara (group of pigs) – [o] porco
  • [a] vinha (vineyard) – [a] videira 

 

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