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English Grammar

Simple Pluralisation Guide

Regular Plurals | Irregular Plurals | Latin | Singular

Plural Forms

Regular Plurals

The plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the letter 's' to the end of the word .

For example:-

  • bag - bags
  • dog - dogs
  • horse - horses
  • minute - minutes

But there are some exceptions:-

Nouns that end in -ch, -x, -s, -sh add '-es' to the end of the word.

For example:-

  • box - boxes
  • boss - bosses
  • bush - bushes
  • church - churches
  • gas - gases

Most nouns ending in -o preceded by a consonant also form their plurals by adding '-es' .

For example:-

  • potato - potatoes
  • tomato - tomatoes
  • volcano - volcanoes

However many newly created words and words with a Spanish or Italian origin that end in -o just add an 's'.

For example:-

  • photo - photos | piano - pianos | portico - porticos

Nouns that end in a single 'z', add '-zes' to the end of the word.

For example:-

  • quiz - quizzes

Nouns ending in a consonant + y, drop the y and add '-ies'.

For example:-

  • party - parties | lady - ladies

Most nouns ending in 'is', drop the 'is' and add '-es'.

For example:-

  • crisis - crises | hypothesis - hypotheses | oasis - oases

Most nouns ending in -f or -fe, drop the f and add 'ves'.

For example:-

  • calf - calves | half - halves | wolf - wolves

But this isn't a hard and fast rule:-

  • belief - beliefs (believes is a verb form)
  • brief - briefs
  • chef - chefs
  • proof - proofs
  • roof - roofs
  • cafe - cafes
  • safe - safes (saves is a verb form)

Irregular Plurals

There are also a lot of common nouns that have irregular plurals.

Most common nouns connected with human beings seem to be irregular.

For example:-

  • child - children | person - people | man - men | woman - women

Other irregular common nouns are:-

foot - feet | goose - geese | mouse - mice | tooth - teeth

Some nouns have identical plural and singular forms.

For example:-

  • aircraft - aircraft | fish - fish | headquarters - headquarters | sheep - sheep | species - species

In the plural form they still take a plural verb (are / were):-

There is an aircraft in the hangar.

There are some aircraft in the hangar.

There was a fish in the tank.

There were some fish in the tank.

Uncountable nouns on the other hand have no plural form and take a singular verb (is / was ...).

For example:-

  • advice
  • information
  • luggage
  • news

There is a lot of luggage on the plane, but a piece of luggage has gone missing.

Some nouns (especially those associated with two things) exist only in the plural form and take a plural verb (are / were...).

For example:-

  • cattle
  • scissors
  • trousers
  • tweezers
  • congratulations
  • pyjamas

Have you seen my scissors? They were on my desk.

Nouns that stem from older forms of English or are of foreign origin often have odd plurals.

For example:-

  • ox - oxen
  • index - indices or indexes

In compound nouns the plural ending is usually added to the main noun.

For example:-

  • son-in-law - sons-in-law
  • passer-by - passers-by

Words ending in -us

Linguists can argue for hours about the plural ending of nouns ending in -us. Many of these words are loanwords from Latin and preserve their Latin plural form, replacing the -us suffix with -i, but of course not all words ending in -us have a Latin origin , and some Latin words ending in -us were not pluralized with -i. hence the argument.

For example:-

The English plural of virus is viruses, not viri.

Other Latin loanwords that take the regular English plural -es ending include campus - campuses | bonus - bonuses

Latin loanwords that take a -i plural ending include radius - radii |  alumnus - alumni

If you want to bait a linguist ask them if the plural of crocus is crocuses or croci, or whether the plural of octopus is octopuses, octopi or octopodes.

Singular

Uncountable nouns are always singular.

The pronouns each, either, neither, another, and all compound words ending in one, body, or thing are always singular.

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