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A statement like "dodos were flightless birds" seems to be using a collective noun; "dodos" being the collective.

But in the case where a group actually only had a single item, would a usage like this still be considered correct?

For instance, say someone discovers the last living dodo and exclaims, "dodos still exist!". Since there is only one, how can it be correct to say "dodos"? Could this be is grammatically correct and yet still be incorrect usage because it is a logical error?

But curiously it doesn't seem strange to me to say that "dodos are extinct" even though now I'm referring to a collective which has zero living members. Perhaps there is an implicit sense of the past in this case?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, JJJ, Chappo, jimm101 May 22 at 16:52

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    You're being over-literal. It's perfectly natural to use singular in contexts like The dodo is extinct and The dodo was a flightless bird. This implies nothing about how many dodos you might be talking about. – FumbleFingers May 21 at 14:48
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    Also, note that dodos is not a collective noun, simply the plural of dodo. I think in general usage, most people would frown on using a collective noun like flock to refer to a single dodo, but you could argue that two or three dodos wouldn't be enough to constitute a flock either. A flight of dodos, of course, presents other problems. – choster May 21 at 17:01