Basic grammar rules: plural in english

Basic grammar rules: plural in english


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This is a lesson about the plural in English: how to form the plural of regular and irregular English names.

Plural in regular English

The plural is usually formed with an -s at the end of the singular name:

  • book → books
  • dog → dogs
  • river → rivers
  • horse → horses
  • hat → hats
  • cup → cups
  • bag → bags
  • boat → boats

Be careful, for names that end in -s, -sh, -ch, -ch, -x, -z or -o, the plural mark is -es:

  • watch → watches
  • bus → buses
  • church → churches
  • box → boxes
  • witch → witches
  • dress → dresses
  • beach → beaches
  • kiss → kisses
  • table → tables
  • potato → potatoes
  • hero → heroes
  • echo → echoes

Some words ending with -o take a -s in the plural:

  • Zoo Zoos
  • Photo Photos
  • Piano Pianos
  • Auto Autos
  • Pro Pros
  • Tattoo Tattoos
  • Solo Solos
  • Kangaroo Kangaroos
  • Kilo Kilos
  • Memo Memos
  • Studio Studios
  • Video Videos

Some words ending with -o may have a -s or -es in the plural (both are correct):

  • buffalo → buffalos / buffaloes
  • no → nos / noes
  • tornado → tornados / tornadoes
  • volcano → volcanos / volcanoes
  • zero → zeros / zeroes
  • cargo → cargos / cargoes
  • mosquito → mosquitos / mosquitoes
  • halo → halos / haloes

For names ending in -y, it must be replaced by -ies:

  • baby → babies
  • party → parties
  • cherry → cherries
  • fly → flies
  • cry → cries
  • lady → ladies
  • entry → entries
  • city → cities

But if the -y is preceded by a vowel, just add a -s:

  • boy → boys
  • toy → toys
  • key → keys
  • way → ways
  • storey → storeys
  • day → days
  • tray → trays
  • donkey → donkeys

For names that end in -f or -fe, the plural mark is -ves:

  • wife → wives
  • knife → knives
  • leaf → leaves
  • thief → thieves
  • loaf → loaves
  • shelf → shelves
  • self → selves
  • half → halves
  • wolf → wolves

Some xceptions: belief, chief, cliff, proof, roof, oaf and safe take only one -s.

Plural in irregular English

Some names change significantly in the plural:

  • man → men
  • woman → women
  • child → children
  • person → people
  • foot → feet
  • tooth → teeth
  • goose → geese
  • mouse → mice
  • louse → lice
  • ox → oxen

But some names have the same form in the singular and plural: no need for -s at the end!

  • sheep sheep (NOT sheeps)
  • fish fish (NOT fishes)
  • information  information (NOT informations)
  • hair  hair (NOT hairs)

and so on for salmon, deer, aircraft, series, species, species, furniture and luggage, they never take -s in the plural!!!

Family names (surnames) take one -s in the plural:

  • I went to the Smiths for dinner last night.
  • The Simpsons.

Some Greek or Latin words may keep their original plural:

  • basis bases
  • hypothesis hypotheses
  • analysis analyses
  • crisis crises
  • diagnosis diagnoses
  • thesis theses
  • referendum referenda
  • phenomenon → phenomena

Measurements or cardinal numbers have regular plurals when used alone. If they are preceded by a number or many, they keep their singular form.

Ex: thousand, hundred, pound, foot and stone.

  • thousand    |     thousands 
  • hundred      |      hundreds 

The termination -s is not necessarily the mark of the plural. Some nouns in -s are uncountable nouns that are always followed by a verb in the singular:

– Names of diseases:

  • measles
  • mumps
  • shingles

– Game names:

  • billiards
  • dominoes
  • darts

– Names of materials:

  • physics
  • mathematics
  • linguistics

Objects composed of several parts always have the termination -s

  • trousers
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • glasses

They are often preceded by – a pair of..:

Ex: a pair of scissors

 

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