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 English Grammar 

Plural Nouns


  • Rules for the plural form of nouns. 


    Plural nouns are words used to refer to more than one person, place, animal, thing or idea.
    The plural form of nouns in English is formed as follows:

    • General Rule:   Add 's' 
      • Examples:
        cats  | bags  | books  | tables  | houses  | dogs...


    • Nouns ending in S, CH, SH, X or Z :  Add 'es' 
      • Examples:
        bus-buses | lunch-lunches  | switch-switches  | watch-watches | brush-brushes  | box-boxes  | waltz-waltzes...

      • There is one exception to this rule:
        If the noun ending in -ch is pronounced with a 'k' sound, add 's' to form the plural:
        Examples: stomach-stomachs  |  monarch-monarchs ...


    • Nouns ending in F or FE:  Add 'ves' 
      • Examples:
        half-halves | shelf-shelves | leaf-leaves | thief-thieves | wolf-wolves | life-lives  | knife-knives | wife-wives ...
        Some exceptions: belief-belefs  | chef-chefs  |  proof-proofs  | roof-roofs....


    • Nouns ending in O:  Add 'es' or 's' 
      • Examples ending in 'es:
        potato-potatoes  | tomato-tomatoes |hero-heroes |echo-echoes | veto-vetoes | mosquito-mosquitoes ...
      • Examples ending in 's':
        radio-radios  | stereo-stereos | video-videos | piano-pianos, photo-photos  | soprano-sopranos  ....


    • Nouns ending in Y 

      - Consonant before 'y':
      • Remove 'y', add 'ies'.
        Examples:
        cherry-cherries  | city-cities   | country-countries | family-families | lady-ladies  | party-parties ...
      - Vowel before 'y':
      • Add 's'.
        Examples:
        day-days | holiday-holidays | toy-toys  | key-keys, donkey-donkeys | turkey-turkeys | valley-valleys ...


    • Irregular plurals 
      • Examples:
        child-children | man-men | woman-women | foot-feet,  | tooth-teeth | goose-geese  | louse-lice | mouse-mice  | ox-oxen ...


    • Compound nouns  (nouns containing two or more words)
        Compound nouns are usually made plural by adding 's' to the first noun.
      • Examples:
        passer-by: passers-by  | head of state: heads of state  | mother-in-law: mothers-in-law ...
        More on compound nouns here.  


    • Nouns with no change in the plural 
      • Examples:
        deer | fish  | sheep | salmon  | trout  | aircraft | hovercraft | spacecraft  | headquarters  | series  | species  | means  | offspring ...


  • Plural nouns with no singular form


    Some plural nouns have no singular form.
    Examples:
    belongings  | binoculars  | clothes  | earnings  | goods  | premises  | sunglasses  | trousers  | shorts  | scissors | stairs  | surroundings...

    These nouns take a plural verb :
    • My clothes are wet.
    • The company's earnings are increasing every year.
    • Wow! Your sunglasses are very fashionable!
    • These scissors are rusty.

    To refer to one item of clothing, tools or instruments which consist of two parts, a pair of is used :
    • A pair of trousers
    • A pair of scissors.

    Some nouns appear to be plural in form but take a singular verb.
    For example : news, gymnastics, athletics, economics, physics, politics
    • Athletics is a competitive sport.
    • The news is not very good I'm afraid.
    • They say politics is a complicated business.
    • Gymnastics is fun to watch.
    • Linguistics is the study of language.
    • Physics is a difficult subject for many students.

See also:  countable and plural nouns   |   collective and compound nouns


 Grammar   Exercises 



Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.