Ask the Editor
Archive
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
Partitive Nouns and Collective Nouns
Wednesday April 10th 2019
Question
Is "boxes" in "three boxes of cereal" a partitive noun or a collective noun? What is the difference? — Phoo, Thailand
Answer

A partitive noun is a noun that is used to describe a part or quantity of something. Partitive nouns are used with another noun to tell you how much of that noun there is. "Boxes" in "three boxes of cereal" is a partitive noun because it describes a specific quantity of cereal. Below are more examples of partitive nouns.

  • a glass of milk
  • a spoonful of sugar
  • some of the cake
  • a lot of feathers
  • a bottle of perfume
  • a piece of paper

 

A collective noun is a noun that describes a group of something. Collective nouns do not necessarily tell you about the quantity of things in a group. Below are some examples of collective nouns.

  • a pride of lions
  • a flock of seagulls
  • a crowd of people
  • a team of players
  • a troupe of dancers
  • a forest of trees

 

Just remember: a partitive noun describes a part or quantity of something. A collective noun describes a group of things.

 

I hope this helps. For more posts about words, idioms, grammar, and usage, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Don't forget to subscribe to our Word of the Day e-mails!

Click here to try one of our vocabulary quizzes before you go!

 

Archive