Plural nouns

Plural nouns


A plural noun is a word that refers to more than one person or thing. To make the plural of a noun, we add the plural ending –s.  For example, ‘book’ in the plural is ‘books’.

Singular
Plural
car
cars
school
schools
dog
dogs
table
tables

That seems easy, but there are a lot of exceptions to this rule.

If the noun ends in s, x, z, ch, sh, make the plural by adding –es to the end.

Singular
Plural
bus
buses
tax
taxes
glass
glasses
bush
bushes
bench
benches

If the noun ends in a consonant and then y, take off the y and add –ies to make the plural. But if the noun ends in a vowel and then y, simply add –s.

Singular
Plural
city
cities
family
families
factory
factories
policy
policies

Nouns ending in f make the plural by changing f to –ves. In this case, es is pronounced as /z/.

Singular
Plural
wife
wives
knife
knives
wolf
wolves
leaf
leaves
shelf
shelves

Exceptions

The plurals of the following nouns are formed by adding –s.
  • roof – roofs
  • chief – chiefs
  • cliff – cliffs
  • cuff – cuffs

If the noun ends in o, add –es to form the plural.

Singular
Plural
potato
potatoes
hero
heroes
tomato
tomatoes
torpedo
torpedoes
cargo
cargoes

Exceptions

Some nouns do not follow this rule.
  • piano – pianos
  • zero – zeros
  • photo – photos
  • video – videos
  • zoo – zoos

Pronunciation

Pronunciation of –s (-es) changes depending on what sound the singular noun ends in.  There are three kinds of pronunciation: /s/, /z/, /iz/.

/s/
/z/
/iz/
books
plays
horses
parks
boys
carriages
caps
doctors
foxes

Spelling

These are rules for the plurals of regular nouns.

Nouns ending in…
How to pluralize
Examples
s, x, z, ch, sh
Add –es
box boxes
watch watches
Consonant+y
change  y to i and add –es
baby babies
lorry lorries
f
Change f to v and add –es
loaf loaves
life lives
o
Add –es
echo echoes
veto vetoes


Irregular plurals

The plural of some nouns is not formed in the normal way. These are irregular plurals.  For example, ‘children’ is an irregular plural of ‘child’.
This is a list of the most common irregular plurals in English.

Singular
Plural
woman
women
man
men
child
children
tooth
teeth
foot
feet
person
people
mouse
mice
goose
geese
cactus
cacti
analysis
analyses
diagnosis
diagnoses
oasis
oases
thesis
theses
crisis
crises
phenomenon
phenomena
criterion
criteria
datum
data

Some nouns remain the same in the plural.We do not add –s or –es to make them plural.

  • aircraft - aircraft
  • sheep – sheep
  • series – series
  • species – species
  • deer – deer
We identify them as singular or plural by looking at the context.

  • I see a sheep in the valley
  • Sheep are grazing in the field.

Nouns that are always plural
In English, some nouns are used only in the plural. They are often things that consist of two parts joined together. They cannot be used with singular verbs.

  • scissors
  • trousers
  • clothes
  • goods
  • pyjamas
  • headphones
  • scales
  • stairs
  • jeans
  • shorts
We can use the expression a pair of to refer to the exact number of these nouns, for example, a pair of trousers, two pairs of jeans.

Nouns that are always singular

Some nouns have no plurals, although they end in –s.
  • politics
  • mathematics
  • phonetics
  • news

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