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This grammar page on ‘Matching verbs to collective nouns’ provided by Oxford Dictionaries says:

Collective nouns are nouns which stand for a group or collection of people or things. They include words such as audience, committee, police, crew, family, government, group, and team.

In American English, most collective nouns are treated as singular, with a singular verb:

  • √ The whole family was at the table.

  • √ The government is doing a good job.

  • √ He prefers an audience that arrives without expectations.

In British English, most collective nouns can be treated as singular or plural:

  • The whole family was at the table.[singular collective noun; singular verb]

  • The whole family were at the table.[plural collective noun; plural verb]

  • The government is doing a good job.[singular collective noun; singular verb]

  • The government are doing a good job.[plural collective noun; plural verb]

There are a few collective nouns (in both British and American English) that are always used with a plural verb, the most common of which are police and people:

  • √ She's happy with the way the police have handled the case.

  • X She's happy with the way the police has handled the case.

  • √ It's been my experience that people are generally forgiving.

  • X It's been my experience that people is generally forgiving.

Although Oxford says collective nouns stand for a group or collection of things as well as people, every example word provided by Oxford stands for a group or collection of people only (audience, committee, police, crew, family, government, group, and team), possibly except for group, because there can be a group of things as well as a group of people.

In general, "things" can include animals as well as inanimate objects. But I don't think that the Oxford grammar editors intended to exclude inanimate objects from the "things". So, I'd like to interpret the "things" as inanimate objects.

Can you treat the collective noun 'group' denoting a collection of inanimate objects as plural in British English as follows?

A group are located on the mountain's south ridge. [Assuming that 'a group' here refers to a group of houses.]

Also, are there other collective nouns that denote a collection of inanimate objects that can be treated as plural in British English as shown by Oxford?

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    Animals, definitely — herd, flock, school, and so forth. – Peter Shor Dec 8 '17 at 4:10
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    @PeterShor Thanks. By "things", I mean inanimate objects. Speaking of animals, though, can you treat "herd", "flock", or "school" as plural in British English? For example, can you say in British English, The herd graze in open pastures.? (Not a rhetorical question.) – JK2 Dec 8 '17 at 4:29
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    Google has several instances of "the furniture are", seemingly from native speakers. For example: The furniture are classical and elegant but at the same time with a contemporary style. And The furniture are finished in natural birch color with two layers of best class water-based Scandinavian lacquers. This usage sounds ungrammatical to me, a native British English speaker. – Shoe Dec 11 '17 at 8:25
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    Could you please how this id different from 137 Questions that went before? Failing that could you take it somewhere like English Language Learners, where it will be much better appreciated? – Robbie Goodwin Aug 13 '18 at 18:44
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    The word group is not a collective noun, period. – Lambie Aug 13 '18 at 23:24
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The first word that comes to mind is "stuff" (because you specified "inanimate objects"). Although "stuff" is a collection of inanimate objects, the correct way to match verbs to it is by treating it as singular. Example: "Her stuff was strewn all over the room."

Another noun that reinforces and confirms this rule is "luggage". Example: "Our bright red luggage was easy to spot in the carousel."

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    Welcome to english.stackexchange. As with all stack exchange sites this is strictly a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. As such anything posted in the Answer box must answer the Question. The Question in this case being either "Can a collective noun denoting a collection of inanimate objects be treated as plural in British English?", or possibly "are there [...] collective nouns that denote a collection of inanimate objects that can be treated as plural in British English [...]?" You don't appear to have answered either directly. You can edit your answer by clicking the "edit" under it. – AndyT Sep 4 '18 at 15:43
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Grammar Monster collective nouns gives this list; also consider group, which can apply to a collection of just about anything (stamps, precious stones).

A bouquet of flowers

A bunch of flowers

A fleet of ships

A forest of trees

A galaxy of stars

A pack of cards

A pack of lies

A pair of shoes

A range of mountains

A wad of notes

The OP asks, "Can any of the collective nouns in your answer be treated as plural when used alone?

A quick Google Ngram search reveals that only "pair" is sometimes used with a plural verb.

Here is the Google NGram for "pair are". books.google.com/ngrams/… Some of the references are to shoes or socks; many are to anatomical structures. Others are to mathematics. Many are false positives--e.g., "the two lines of its pair are connected" (pair is not the noun governing are". You might find this Q&A interesting also : english.stackexchange.com/questions/7186/… –

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    Thanks. But my question specifically asks about "the collective noun as presented by Oxford", not just any collective noun. And the title of the Oxford grammar page is "Matching verbs to collective nouns", which they find problematic because they can be treated as plural even when they're in the singular at least in British English, and because some of them (e.g., police) can be treated as plural even in American English. So, can any of the collective nouns in your answer be treated as plural when used alone? The bouquet are beautiful (?) – JK2 Dec 8 '17 at 4:40
  • In those search results with "pair", does "pair" mean a pair of inanimate objects when they're treated as plural? If so, could you show me some of those search results? – JK2 Dec 8 '17 at 6:17
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    This is just a list of collective nouns of inanimate objects; it doesn't say whether plural or singular verb agreement should be (/can be) used. – AndyT Aug 10 '18 at 9:30
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    @Xanne - So, you admit what you've written doesn't answer the question, and yet you're complaining that I've downvoted? As far as writing my own answer - when I visited this question I upvoted another answer which I thought was good and answered the OP's question. The owner of that answer has since deleted it, but hey. – AndyT Aug 16 '18 at 8:13
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    The links are not links. – Mari-Lou A Aug 17 '18 at 12:24

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