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Singular and Plural Nouns

Making Plural Nouns in English
It’s more than just adding s. You surely know that in order to change a singular noun to its plural form in English you usually add s but there are many cases where this is not the case.
Remember that only countable nouns actually have a plural form because they represent items that exist in separated units you can count.
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Trees
  • Goats
See the countable nouns section here.
If a noun adds anything other than a simple s to make the plural then most dictionaries will show the special or alternative plural forms of the noun.
  • A mango.
  • Some mangos.
  • Some mangoes.
  • A scarf.
  • Some scarfs.
  • Some scarves.
Rules for plural s on singular nouns.
Like countable nouns we usually add the letter s to the end of a singular noun to make it plural.
  • I like that chair.
  • I like those chairs.
We have one classroom on the first floor and three more classrooms on the second floor.
Compound nouns.
For compound nouns we add the s only to the main noun.
  • Derby has only one fire-engine and Nottingham has three fire-engines.
  • I have one daughter-in-law while my sister has three daughters-in-law.
The rules
When a nouns ending is s, sh, ch, x, z we add es to a noun.
  • One bus, two buses.
  • One bush, three bushes.
  • One batch, four batches.
  • One box, five boxes.
  • One quiz, six quizzes.
If the singular noun ends with a consonant + y drop the y replace with an ies. But do not drop the y if it is preceded by a vowel.
  • One city,  two cities.
  • One baby, two babies.
  • One country, two countries.
  • One toy, two toys.
  • One day, two days.
If the noun is a proper noun for example a person or a country we only add s in any case.
  • John F. Kennedy was the most famous of the Kennedys.
If the singular noun ends with a consonant + o add es unless the o is preceded by a vowel then we only add s to make the plural form.
  • A potato, two potatoes.
  • A hero, three heroes.
  • An echo, four echoes.
  • A radio, five radios.
  • A studio, six studios.
  • A kangaroo, seven kangaroos.
Irregular noun plurals
For singular nouns ending with f or fe we drop this ending and add ves to make the plural form.
  • A knife, two knives.
  • One half,  three halves.
  • My life, their lives.
  • A wolf, four wolves.
  • One roof,  roofs.
  • A cliff, many cliffs.
  • A safe, safes.
  • A dwarf, the seven dwarfs.
  • A dwarf, the seven dwarves.
  • One wharf, a few wharfs.
  • One wharf, a few wharves.
Unique Old English Plural Nouns
These nouns have unique plural forms that survived from Old English you should learn them by heart according to the following groups as they are in common use.
  • A man, some men.
  • A woman, some women.
  • A person, some people.
  • A child, some children.
  • An ox, some oxen. (castrated bulls)
  • A brother, some brethren. (religion)
  • My brother, my brothers. (family)
  • A die, two dice.
  • A foot, six feet.
  • A goose, some geese.
  • A tooth, no teeth.
  • A mouse, we have mice.
  • A louse, she has lice.
One form for Singular and Plural.
Many nouns have identical forms for both singular and plural.
  • A sheep, six sheep.
  • A deer, six deer.
  • A moose, six moose.
  • A fish, six fish. (fishes, if used for different species of fish)
  • A dozen roses, six dozen roses. (dozens of roses)
  • One hundred men, six hundred men. (hundreds of men)
Special singular plural cases (plural-only Nouns)
Some nouns only have a plural form ending with s or without.
  • I like these pants.
  • I like her jeans.
  • He is wearing shorts.
  • Use either scissors or nail clippers.
  • Binoculars are stronger than any glasses.
Other nouns ending with s only have a plural form only with certain meanings.
  • Customs (at the airport, not practices).
  • Guts (courage, not intestines).
  • Quarters (lodgings, not fractions).
  • Clothes (garments, not fabrics).
  • Goods (merchandise, not the opposite of bad).
  • Arms (weapons, not limb).
Singular nouns with an s ending.
Some nouns end with s but are usually singular they take a singular verb with an s ending in the Simple present. 
  • Diseases like measles and rabies.
  • Fields of study and occupation like economics, politics, physics and gymnastics.
  • Games like billiards and tennis.
Some nouns have an identical form for singular and plural that both end with s.
  • Barracks means headquarters.
  • Crossroads a TV series, there are many TV series.
  • There is one species of humans but many species of cats.


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