Singular & Plural Nouns

understanding Plural Nouns formation

A Singular noun refers to a single person, place, thing, idea, animal, quality, etc.

A plural noun, on the other hand, refers to more than one person, place, thing, idea, animal or action.

The formation of plurals can be achieved by adding –s (girls) or –es (churches) or through spelling changes, such as changing –y to i and then adding –es (fly/flies), changing f to v and then adding –es or –s (half/halves and life/lives), or changing vowels (foot/feet).

There are also a few unusual formations, such as adding –en (ox/oxen) or using the same word for both the singular and plural forms (deer, moose, sheep ), as well as those words that have more than one correct form (gases or gasses, zeros or zeroes, and dwarfs or dwarves).

Within the remainder of this study, we'll examine how the English language forms nouns to name either one or more than one person, place, thing, idea, animal, quality, or action.

Guidelines for Forming Plural Nouns

1.  Regular Plural Nouns

Most familiar nouns form the plural by adding s to the base or singular form.

Adding -s to Singular or Base form
applesagentsbanksbags
captainscornsballsdogs
doctorseggseyesfunnels
goatshousesironsjobs
kettleslightsmonksnerds
officespensqueensrooms
schoolstowersumbrellasvans
worksxylophonesyamszeniths
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • To form the plural add s to end of regular words; do the same with other words that end in e.

2.  Nouns ending in ch, sh, s, x, or z

If the last sound in the word is –sh, –ch, –x, –x, or –z you must add an –es to change the singular noun to a plural noun.

This may be done because of the difficulty in attempt to pronounce such words with only an s added. (You might as well attempt, and see the friction.)

Adding -es to words ending in ch, sh, s, x, or z.
boxboxesbuzzbuzzes
crutchcrutchesdishdishes
foxfoxesinchinches
glassglassesmessmesses
peachpeacheesstitchstitches
taxtaxeswatchwatchs
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • To form the plural add es to words that end in ch, sh, s, x, or z.

3.  Nouns with a consonant before ending in y

When it comes to nouns ending in y with a consonantOpens in new window coming just before the y; the standard practice is to change the y to an i before adding es.

Changing y to i before adding es to words with a consonant before ending in y.
armyarmiesbabybabies
bullybulliescopycopies
dutydutiesflyflies
ladyladiesmysterymysteries
pinkypinkiesstorystories
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Change the y to an i and add es to form the plural of words that comes with a consonant before ending in y.

4.  Nouns with a vowel before ending in y

To form plurals with nouns ending in y with a vowelOpens in new window coming just before the y; you should simply add an s without changing the final y. Likewise any proper nouns ending in y adds only an s.

Adding s to words with a vowel before ending in y
alleyalleysboyboys
baybaysdaydays
journeyjourneysmonkeymonkeys
turkeyturkeysvalleyvalleys
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Simply add an s to form the plural of words that comes with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) before ending in y.

5.  Nouns preceded by a consonant before ending in an o

Other nouns ending in an o followed by a consonantOpens in new window usually add es to the singular or base formOpens in new window in the formation of the plural form.

Adding es to nouns with a consonant before ending in an o
buffalobuffaloesechoechoes
heroheroesmangomangoes
potatopotatoestomatotomatoes
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Simply add es to form the plural of words that comes with a consonant before ending in an o.

6.  Nouns preceded by a vowel before ending in an o

Other nouns ending in an o followed by a vowelOpens in new window usually add s to the singular or base formOpens in new window in the formation of the plural form.

Adding s to nouns with a vowel before ending in an o
radioradiosrodeorodeos
steriosteriosstudiostudios
Important Hints 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Simply add s to form the plural of words that comes with a vowel before ending in an o.

7.  Nouns ending in f or fe

Some nouns ending in f usually take the plural form by changing the f to v before adding the plural ending, es. Also prominent are other nouns ending in fe, which usually change the f to v before adding s to make the plural form.

changing f to v, and fe to v before adding es, and s.
leaf (f to v + es)leaves shelf (f to v + es)shelves
life (fe to ve + s)lives knife (fe to ve + s)knives
Key Points 
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Nouns with final f or fe often change to v or ve before s is added to make the plural, as in wolf/wolves.

Some Exceptions

When it comes to plural formation of nouns, there are certain exception to the rules above.

Exception I

Most nouns ending in f or fe do not change the f to v before adding the plural ending. However, nouns with final ff only have to add s.

In some cases, the only way to be certain of the formation of the plural of a noun with final f or fe is to consult the dictionary.

Examples
beliefbeliefs cliffcliffs
roofroofs safesafes

Exception II

Most nouns often take exception by completely changing the spelling of the word to make formation of the plural.

Examples
childchildren datumdata
manmen mousemice
phenomenonphenomena toothteeth

Exception III

Some nouns tend to retain the base or singular form to also make the plural form.

Examples
deerdeer sheepsheep
plierspliers moosemoose
mumpsmumps pantspants
Important Hints  
  • Plural means more than once.
  • Some words have irregular plural forms, and some words use the same spelling for both plural and singular forms, as in woman/women and deer/deer.
  • When in doubt about the spelling of a plural, consult a dictionary.