Home/Grammar/



booksGRAMMAR



Plurals


plurals

English plural nouns

In order to change a singular noun to its plural form in English, you usually add "s". For example, the plural of book is books. The plural of table is tables. These are regular plurals.

But there are many nouns which don't follow this rule. For example the plural of fish is fish. The plural of tooth is teeth. These are irregular plurals

Regular plurals:

Form:

Add "s" to the noun:

Noun + S

While many plural nouns follow this rule, the spelling sometimes differ.

Examples:

Singular Plural
snake snakes
window windows
box
boxes
boy boys
lorry lorries
potato potatoes
knife knives

Spelling of plurals:

The plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the letter "s".

  • more than one snake = snakes
  • more than one girl = girls
  • more than one window = windows

Nouns that end in -ch, x, s, z or s-like sounds, however, will require an es for the plural:

  • more than one witch = witches
  • more than one box = boxes
  • more than one gas = gases
  • more than one bus = buses
  • more than one kiss = kisses

Nouns that end in a vowel + y take the letter s:

  • more than one boy = boys
  • more than one way = ways

Nouns that end in a consonant + y drop the y and take ies:

  • more than one baby = babies
  • more than one lorry = lorries

A lot of nouns that end in o take es in the plural:

  • more than one potato = potatoes
  • more than one hero = heroes
o becomes oes
echo echoes
embargo embargoes
hero heroes
potato potatoes
tomato tomatoes
torpedo torpedoes
veto vetoes

Some nouns ending in o break the above rule and get os in the plural form:

o becomes os
auto
autos
kangaroo
kangaroos
kilo
kilos
memo
memos
photo
photos
piano
pianos
pimento
pimentos
pro pros
solo solos
soprano sopranos
studio studios
tattoo tattoos
video videos
zoo zoos

Other nouns ending in o get either os or oes i the plural forms:

o becomes os or oes
buffalo buffalos/buffaloes
cargo cargos/cargoes
halo halos/haloes
mosquito mosquitos/mosquitoes
motto mottos/mottoes
no nos/noes
tornado tornados/tornadoes
volcano volcanos/volcanoes
zero zeros/zeroes

Plurals of nouns that end in f or fe usually change the f sound to a v sound and add s or -es.

  • more than one knife = knives
  • more than one leaf = leaves
  • more than one hoof = hooves
  • more than one life = lives
  • more than one self = selves
  • more than one elf = elves

Irregular plurals:

There are several nouns that have irregular plural forms.

Singular Plural
fish fish
sheep sheep
barracks barracks
foot feet
tooth teeth
goose geese
tooth teeth
goose geese
child children
man men
woman women
person people
mouse mice

Plurals formed in this way are sometimes called irregular plurals or mutated (or mutating) plurals.

  • more than one child = children
  • more than one woman = women
  • more than one man = men
  • more than one person = people
  • more than one goose = geese
  • more than one mouse = mice
  • more than one barracks = barracks
  • more than one deer = deer

Other irregular plural forms include the following:

Some foreign nouns retain their plural. (Note that some of them adapted the s of the English plural form!)

Singular Foreign plural English plural
alga algae
amoeba amoebae amoebas
antenna antennae antennas
formula formulae formulas
larva larvae
nebula nebulae nebulas
vertebra vertebrae

Nouns ending in us get a, i or the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural English plural
corpus corpora
genus genera
alumnus alumni
bacillus bacilli
cactus cacti cactuses
focus foci
fungus fungi funguses
nucleus nuclei
octopus octopi octopuses
radius radii
stimulus stimuli
syllabus syllabi syllabuses
terminus termini

Nouns ending in um get a, i or the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural English plural
addendum addenda
bacterium bacteria
curriculum curricula curriculums
datum data
erratum errata
medium media
memorandum memoranda memorandums
ovum ova
stratum strata
symposium symposia symposiums

Nouns ending in ex or ix get ices or get the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural  English plural
apex apices apexes
appendix appendices appendixes
cervix cervices cervixes
index indices indexes
matrix matrices matrixes
vortex vortices

Nouns ending in is becoming es in plural:

Singular Plural form
analysis analyses
axis axes
basis bases
crisis crises
diagnosis diagnoses
emphasis emphases
hypothesis hypotheses
neurosis neuroses
oasis oases
parenthesis parentheses
synopsis synopses
thesis theses

Nouns ending in -on becoming -a:
 

singular plural
criterion criteria
phenomenon phenomena
automaton automata

Nouns that are always singular:

A handful of nouns appear to be plural in form but take a singular verb:

  • The news is bad.
  • Gymnastics is fun to watch.
  • Economics/mathematics/statistics is said to be difficult.

Some nouns never take the s of the plural and are always singular:

  • your luggage / baggage is so heavy
  • I'd like to buy new furniture for the house
  • you can find more information in our website.

Exercise on plurals.

Members