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English Grammar

English Grammar Notes: Plural Nouns

In general the plural of a noun is formed by adding -S to the noun.

Singular Plural
car cars
house houses
book books
bird birds
pencil pencils

 

However:

1. When the noun ends in S, SH, CH, X or Z*, we add -ES to the noun.

Singular Plural
kiss kisses
wish wishes
match matches
fox foxes
quiz quizzes*
  • I have a box in my bedroom.
  • I have three boxes in my bedroom.

* With words that end in Z sometimes we add an extra Z to the plural form of the word (such as with the plural of quiz).

 

2. When the noun ends in a VOWEL + Y, we add -S to the noun.

Singular Plural
boy boys
holiday holidays
key keys
guy guys

 

3. When the noun ends in a CONSONANT + Y, we remove Y and add -IES to the noun.

Singular Plural
party parties
lady ladies
story stories
nanny nannies
city cities

 

4. If the noun ends in F or FE, we remove the F/FE and add -VES to the noun.

Singular Plural
life lives
leaf leaves
thief thieves
wife wives

Some exceptions: roof – roofs, cliff – cliffs, chief – chiefs, belief – beliefs, chef – chefs

 

5. If the noun ends in a CONSONANT + O, we normally add -ES to the noun.

Singular Plural
tomato tomatoes
potato potatoes
echo echoes
hero heroes

Some exceptions: piano – pianos, halo – halos, photo – photos

NOTE: Volcano has two correct forms of plural. Both volcanos and volcanoes are accepted.

6. There are a number of nouns that don’t follow these rules. They are irregular and you need to learn them individually because they don’t normally have an S on the end.

Singular Plural
man men
woman women
child children
foot feet
tooth teeth
goose geese
mouse mice
  • There is a child in the park.
  • There are many children in the park.

 

7. There are some nouns in English that are the same in the singular and the plural.

Singular Plural
fish fish
sheep sheep
deer deer
moose moose
aircraft aircraft
  • I can see a sheep in the field.
  • I can see ten sheep in the field.

Sometimes you will hear the word fishes (especially in songs) though it is grammatically incorrect.

The next rules are a lot more advanced and even native speakers have difficulty with these. Unless you are an advanced student, I wouldn’t recommend learning them just now.

 

8. If the noun ends in IS, we change it to ES. Words that end in IS usually have a Greek root.

Singular Plural
analysis analyses
basis bases
crisis crises

 

9. If the noun ends in US, we change it to I. Words that end in US usually have a Latin root.

Singular Plural
cactus cacti
fungus fungi
stimulus stimuli
syllabus syllabi

Some exceptions: octupus – octupuses (because it is from Greek, not Latin), walrus – walruses

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