Plurals Exercise (462)

Choose the correct (or preferred) plural form of these compound nouns.

  • She scooped several _______ of dirt into the hole.

  • He has attended numerous _________ over the years.

  • The award is given to two outstanding __________ each year.

  • John is his favorite among his three __________.

  • He refuses to settle down and keeps chasing __________.

Answers and Explanations

1. She scooped several handfuls of dirt into the hole.

In words ending with the suffix "ful," the plural "s" always follows the prefix.

2. He has attended numerous courts-martial over the years.

Martial is a post-positive adjective, so it should not be pluralized.

3. The award is given to two outstanding student-athletes each year.

The plural "s" usually follows the key word in a compound noun. (The plural form of "court-martial" is an exception.)

4. John is his favorite among his three sons-in-law.

In compound nouns ending in "in-law," the plural "s" always follows the key word, although the informal construction "in-laws," used to refer to the parents of one’s spouse, is correct.

5. He refuses to settle down and keeps chasing will-o’-the-wisps.

Again, the key word generally receives the plural "s."

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