English Plural

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When we talk about "singular" we are talking about one thing (one man, one apple, one bicycle). When we talk about "plural", we are talking about more than one thing (2 men, 4 apples, 6 bicycles).

How to Form the Regular Plural

The regular plural in English is very simple. The rule is to add an "s" at the end of the noun.


Examples:
singer - singers     pig - pigs     mug - mugs     apple - apples     bill - bills


(First, read the article about the exceptions, then go to "Exercises")

Plural Forms - Exceptions


For some nouns, there are certain exceptions.

1. The Plural Ending "-ves"

This ending is used for nouns with the following two endings:

vowel + f
vowel + fe

To form the plural, "-f" or "-fe" is replaced with "-ves".


Examples:

leaf - leaves     life - lives     loaf - loaves
hoof - hooves     shelf - shelves

Some exceptions to the rule are:


roof - roofs     safe - safes


2. The Plural Ending "-es"

This plural is used for words that end with a hissing sound (ch, sh, s, x, z). Instead of a simple "s", the ending "-es" is attached to the end of the noun.


Examples:

pouch - pouches     lash - lashes     tax - taxes
coach - coaches     bus - buses



3. The Plural Ending "-oes"

This plural is used for many nouns with the ending consonant + o.


Examples:

halo haloes     silo - siloes     motto - mottoes


Some exceptions to the rule are:


photo - photos     piano - pianos     radio - radios


4. The Plural Ending "-ies"

When a noun ends with "y", the "y" is replaced with "-ies" to form the plural.


Examples:

puppy - puppies     French fry - French fries     supply - supplies
city - cities     fly - flies     observatory - observatories


5. Plural = Singular

Some nouns look the same no matter whether we are talking about one or many of them.


Examples:

sheep     fruit     information     fish
moose     carp     salmon

We saw all the salmon swim against the stream.
Dried fruit are a great healthy snack.


6. No Singular

Some words only exist in plural form, even though we are talking about a single thing. Mostly, these are grammatically treated as plural words within a sentence.


Examples:

savings
The Smiths used up their savings to travel around the world.

glasses
I gave Tom his glasses so he could read to me.


7. Plural Words Behaving Like Singular Words

Some plural words behave like singular words. Although the noun is plural, the verb acts as if it was singular.


Examples:

The United States
The United States has not commented on the matter yet.

Darts
Darts is a difficult game, but Mike loves it.

Robotics
Robotics was the only thing Ken was interested in.


8. Irregular Plural Forms

As usual, some nouns simply refuse to follow any of these rules.


Examples:

man - men     woman -women     child - children
person - people     tooth - teeth     goose - geese
mouse - mice     datum - data     crisis - crises
focus - foci