Singular & Plural Nouns
Rules and Examples to Form Plural Nouns
- 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.
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.)
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 prerequisite is to change the y to an i before adding es.
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.
5. Nouns preceded by a consonant before ending in an o
6. Nouns preceded by 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.
|leaf (f to v + es)||leaves||shelf (f to v + es)||shelves|
|life (fe to ve + s)||lives||knife (fe to ve + s)||knives|
When it comes to plural formation of nouns, there are certain exception to the rules above.
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.
Most nouns often take exception by completely changing the spelling of the word to make formation of the plural.
Some nouns tend to retain the base or singular form to also make the plural form.