Miscellaneous content > English Language Usage Topics > Groups of things, animals, and people

Groups of things, animals, and people

There are many words which are used in front of of and a plural noun to refer to a group of things, animals, or people. The commonest ones are given here.

Showing range

Some words can be used to refer to a wide range of things or people:
  • assortment
  • batch
  • battery
  • cluster
  • collection
  • crop
  • group
  • host
  • selection
  • set
  • variety
She joined a group of gossiping villagers in the street.
She may have a collection of old toys left from the time her
children were young.
Some words are usually used to refer to people or animals, rather than things:
  • army
  • band
  • crowd
  • gathering
  • horde
  • knot
  • party
  • swarm
  • throng
A large crowd of students gathered to watch the parade.
An army of ants crossed the flagstones in two close columns.

Showing shape

Some words show the shape of a group of things or people:
  • circle
  • column
  • heap
  • jumble
  • line
  • mound
  • mountain
  • pile
  • ring
  • row
  • scatter
  • scattering
  • sprinkling
  • stack
  • string
He sat down in the middle of the front row of chairs and waited.
The circle of boys broke into applause.

Showing movement or occurrence

Some words show the movement or occurrence of a group of things or people:
  • hail
  • barrage
  • flood
  • rash
  • series
  • shower
  • spate
  • stream
  • string
  • tide
  • trickle
  • volley
Throughout the evening an unbroken stream of people came in.
The decision was followed by a spate of protests.
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