IELTS Video: IELTS Tips for Using Tricky Collective Nouns like Plethora, Myriad and Multitude

Today you’ll learn the correct grammar rules for using the words plethora, myriad and multitude.

These words would be perfect for a higher Vocabulary score in Writing Task 2 and Speaking Part 3.

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We often get questions and comments in our exclusive 3 Keys IELTS Facebook group asking very specific grammar questions.

We answer all of these and save students time going down a rabbit hole with all the information online.

Some of these questions, like today’s topic, can be especially confusing, because a google search will give you conflicting information.

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Are collective nouns plural or singular?

Collective nouns can be tricky!

Do you write “the group is” or “the group are”?

Both can be correct!

You should treat a collective noun as singular or plural depending on the meaning of your sentence.

“The crowd is happy” because you’re referring to the crowd as a whole, or “the crowd are all wearing pajamas” because you’re talking about the individuals and there are many of them.

What if it feels wrong to use a singular or plural verb?

Helpful Tip: If it feels uncomfortable treating a collective noun as singular or plural, add a term like “members of” to force a plural verb.

  • The members of the crowd are laughing.

Why do the words plethora, myriad and multitude trip people up?

The three words you’ll learn today commonly trip up both language learners and natives alike.

You can google these and find arguments about the proper way to use them.

A lot of this is because language evolves over time and their current, common use is often different from how they’ve been used historically.

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Collective noun #1: Plethora

  • Plethora: singular noun similar to plentitude or abundance which means a lot of something.

Use singular verbs for this word.

“The reporters had a plethora of questions after the debate.”

Collective noun #2: Myriad

  • Myriad: an extremely high, countless number.

“There are a myriad of possibilities.”

We commonly use plural verb agreement for this word.

“There are a myriad of reasons to avoid eating fast food.”

  • Helpful Tip: flip the sentence around so that it doesn’t have “there” in place of the real subject.
  • You’d then have, “A myriad of reasons exist.”

“A myriad of” is a quantifier, similar to “a lot of” or “a variety of.”

So just like you’d use plural verb agreement to say “there are a lot of possibilities…” you’d also use plural verb agreement for myriad.

Collective noun #3: Multitude

Another quantifier is “a multitude of”, so again use plural verb agreement.

“Regarding those who hold this opinion, there are a multitude of reasons given.”

Takeaway

Collective nouns are complicated.

They are a perfect example of something that can waste your time when you’re studying for IELTS!

If you find yourself spending time reading conflicting opinions and confused about what is right, you know you need a better source!

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What questions do you have from today’s episode?

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