It can be tricky to guess the plural form of certain words. Do you think you would be good at it? The quiz we prepared can be challenging even for native English speakers. Don’t believe us? You shouldn’t take our word for it. Get down to the questions instead! Before you do that, keep reading if you want to learn everything there is to know about plural forms in the English language.
Nouns have two forms: singular and plural. Singular nouns refer to a single person, place, or thing. For example, in the sentence “Can I borrow your pen?”, “pen” has a singular form. There is only one pen in that situation. If there were more than one pen, the sentence would be: “Can I borrow your pens?” A plural noun is the form of a noun used to show there are more than one.
Only countable nouns have a plural forum. Uncountable nouns (for example “milk”, “flour”, and “water”) do not have a plural form.
The majority of singular nouns are easy to be made plural – you put an -s at the end. For example, cat – cats, pen – pens, orange – oranges, house – houses.
If the singular noun ends with -s, -ss, -ch, -sh, -x, or -z, add the suffix -es at the end to make it plural. For example, bus – buses, truss – trusses, box – boxes, church – churches, marsh – marshes.
Sometimes, when the noun ends in -s or -z, you have to double the -s or -z before adding the -es. For example, fez – fezzes, gas – gasses (note that “gases” is also an acceptable form, as well as more commonly used).
If the noun ends with -f or -fe, you have to replace -f or -fe with -v and add -es. For example, wife – wives, knife – knives, loaf – loaves. There are exceptions to this rule, such as chief – chiefs, roof – roofs, belief – beliefs, chef – chefs. If the noun ends with -ff, you just add -s, and nothing else changes. Examples: cliff – cliffs, puff – puffs.
Consonants are all the letters of the alphabet apart from the vowels: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z. If the singular noun ends in ‑y and the letter before the -y is a consonant, you should change the ending to -ies to make the noun plural. For example, city – cities, puppy – puppies, baby – babies, lady – ladies.
If the singular noun ends in -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, you just need to add an -s to make it plural. Examples: ray – rays, boy – boys, key – keys.
If the singular noun ends in -o, you have to add an -es to make it plural. For example, the plural form of tomato would be tomatoes. For potato, it would be potatoes. There are several exceptions to the rule, such as photo – photos, piano – pianos, halo – halos. A volcano is a unique word because you can choose between two plural forms – volcanoes or volcanos. Both are correct.
What happens when the noun ends in -us? In that case, the plural ending is often -i. For example, cactus – cacti, focus – foci, fungus – fungi, nucleus – nuclei.
If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es. For example, analysis – analyses, ellipsis – ellipses, diagnosis – diagnoses, thesis – theses.
What to do when the singular noun ends in -on? To make it plural, you add -a at the end. Examples: phenomenon – phenomena, criterion – criteria.
Some nouns don’t change – their singular and plural form is the same. You need to see these nouns in context to discern if they are singular or plural. Some of these nouns are sheep, series, species, deer, fish, means, and ice.
The fish is a bit of a special case, however. Generally, the plural form of fish is fish. When referring to more than one species of fish, especially in a scientific context, you can use fishes as the plural. The Zodiac sign Pisces is often referred to as fishes.
Irregular nouns don’t follow regular rules for forming plural forms. It’s best to memorize them or look up the proper form in a dictionary. The examples: child – children, foot – feet, goose – geese, man – men, woman – women, tooth – teeth, mouse – mice, person – people, ox- oxen.
You can use this little guide we’ve written up to help you create plural forms. Unfortunately, you also have to practice. As you must’ve noticed, not all nouns follow standard rules, and there are many exceptions. This means you need to do your best to memorize them and learn how to put them to use. Don’t fret, though – there are many free resources online to help you study. You can also use the help of an English tutor.
Are you ready to test your knowledge of English grammar? See if you can guess the correct plural forms of words. Take the quiz now! Have fun and good luck.
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