English Grammar 101: Plural Form of Nouns

By Daniel Scocco

The English language has both regular and irregular plural forms of nouns. The most common case is when you need to add -s to the noun. For example one car and two cars.

The other two cases of the regular plural form are:

  • nouns that end with s, x, ch or sh, where you add -es (e.g., one box, two boxes)
  • nouns that end with consonant + y, where you change the y with i and add -es (e.g., one enemy, two enemies)

On the irregular plural form of nouns there are basically eight cases:

  • nouns that end with -o, where you add -es (e.g., one potato, two potatoes)
  • nouns ending with -is, where you change -is to -es (e.g., one crisis, two crises)
  • nouns ending with -f, where you change -f to -v and add -es (e.g., one wolf, two wolves)
  • nouns ending with -fe, where you change -f to -v and add -s (e.g., one life, two lives)
  • nouns ending with -us, where you change -us to -i (e.g., one fungus, two fungi)
  • nouns that contain -oo, change -oo to -ee (e.g., one foot, two feet)
  • nouns that end with -on, where you change -on with -a (e.g., phenomenon, phenomena)
  • nouns that don’t change (e.g., sheep, offspring, series)

It might appear overwhelming, but after using these nouns a couple of times you will be able to memorize their plural form easily.

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18 Responses to “English Grammar 101: Plural Form of Nouns”

  • Daniel Scocco

    That link is pointing to a blank page Maeve :).

  • PreciseEdit

    Please, please, please no more “apostrophe S” for plurals.

    We recently added this problem to the Precise Edit Training Manual because we have to fix it so many times.

  • Maeve

    For more about noun plurals, you might want to check out Forming Noun Plurals at AmericanEnglishDoctor.

  • sunny

    and then there is moose. which in plural form is not meese or even mooses, but rather is the ever creative word “moose”

  • Bobbi-lee

    You need to add, words ending with u, add -s (emu: emus, guru: gurus)
    Great list otherwise.
    Also for “nouns ending with -f, where you change -f to -v and add -ves” shouldn’t it be “change -f to -v and add -es” otherwise you have two v’s in there?

  • Daniel Scocco

    Bobbi-lee, corrected the nouns ending with -f.

    The words ending with u, they would fall under the first rule of just adding -s, isn’t it?

  • Kimota

    There’s another category missing.

    Man and woman become men and women in plural, but I think this is unique and is an exception to a rule, otherwise all other nouns containing an ‘a’ would use ‘e’ in the plural.

  • nick humphrey

    and then you have “boot” which has the plural form “boots” and not “beet” =)

  • gigking

    Can some one explain why we say…get in the car/get out of the car…..but..we say get on a bus/plane/boat/train…?

  • Jim

    What about data? I have, perhaps improperly been using the word “data” interchangeably as singular and plural. Someone told me that it is more correct make the singular “datum.”

  • mike

    change two o words to two e’s? I have looked through all of my grammar beeks and never saw that rule

  • nick humphrey

    >Can some one explain why we say…get in the car/get out of the car…..but..we say get on a bus/plane/boat/train…?

    maybe because (before the day of SUVs) you went horizontally into a car, whereas a bus and plane and train you have to walk up some steps to get up onto it??

  • stefan

    Dear nicki humphrey,
    for public transports we use ON not IN, simple as that.
    Now, can anyone tell me why the word BEEF dose not change to BEEVES in America, only in British English?

  • nick humphrey

    @stefani > for public transports we use ON not IN, simple as that.

    does that also apply to vessels? is the lonely island’s “i’m on a boat” grammatically incorrect?

  • steffan

    nick humphrey.
    In this case, for small boats, you may use either IN, ON, the reason is: Different countries, different grammar.
    for example: In British grammar we say “I live IN Oxford Street”
    In American grammar they say ” we live ON oxford street”.
    Therefore in some cases, there is no right or wrong, its only different.

  • dirk dominic

    There are five noun groups in english, and not including the formation of the “s” group from a Latin word as “animal” with plural of animalia.
    The grouping is based on the formation of the plural and given the errant nature of the american version you should know them.

  • MasterJay

    Also, words ending in ‘X’, remove ‘X’ and add ces (Matrix, Matrices)
    And, what about Die/Dice, Mouse/Mice, Schema/Schemata

  • Kevin

    What about the “children”?

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