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Regular Plurals in English

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Nouns in English have singular and plural forms. When you have only one of something, you use the singular form. When you have more than one, the noun must be in its plural form.

The general rule to create a regular plural is to add -s or -es to the end of the word. However, for some words, you must also change the spelling a little.

Let’s look at the regular plural of common words.

Regular Plurals

To make a regular plural in English, add -s to the end of the word.

You say 1 car but 2, 3, 4... cars.

apple - apples

book - books

color - colors

exam - exam

flower - flowers

star - stars

mother - mothers

week - weeks

Regular Plural with Irregular Spelling

Sometimes, the spelling changes at the end of the word when you add -s.

Add -es to the end of words ending in S, SS, SH, CH, X, or Z.

beach - beaches

boss - bosses

bus - buses

church - churches

dish - dishes

lunch - lunches

mass - masses

tax - taxes

For nouns ending in O

1. For some nouns ending in O, add -es to the end of the word.

domino - dominoes

hero - heroes

potato - potatoes

tomato - tomatoes

torpedo - torpedoes

2. For nouns ending in O that are short forms of words, add -s.

bio (from biography) - bios

photo (from photograph) - photos

piano (from pianoforte) - pianos

zoo (from zoological garden) - zoos

3. For other nouns ending in O, you can add -s or -es.

flamingo - flamingos or flamingoes

mango - mangos or mangoes

mosquito - mosquitos or mosquitoes

tornado - tornados or tornadoes

volcano - volcanos or volcanoes

zero - zeros or zeroes

For nouns ending in Y.

1. For nouns ending in a consonant and a Y, change the Y to -ies.

ability - abilities

activity - activities

French fry - French fries

army - armies

city - cities

2. For nouns ending in a vowel and a Y, change keep the Y and add -s.

bay - bays

boy - boys

monkey - monkeys

ray - rays

tray - trays

toy - toys

turkey - turkeys

valley - valleys

Change in Pronunciation in the Irregular Spelling

Sometimes there is a change in the pronunciation of the ending F or FE for some words, and you add -es to the end of those words. Other times, there is no change in pronunciation or spelling.

For nouns ending in F or FE, there are three ways to make the plural.

1. The F or FE changes to -ve before adding -s, so there is a change pronunciation of the ending.

half - halves

knife - knives

leaf - leaves

life - lives

shelf - shelves

thief - thieves

wife - wives

wolf - wolves

Note. Use the same plural forms as above in compound nouns, for example,

pocketknife - pocketknives

bookshelf> - bookshelves

2. However, you just add -s to the end of some words, so the plural is completely regular.

chef - chefs

cliff - cliffs

giraffe - giraffes

reef - reefs

roof - roofs

3. Some nouns have both forms.

calf - calfs or calves

hoof - hoofs or hooves

scarf - scarfs or scarves

Practice

Complete a short exercise to assess what you have learned.

How about Irregular Plurals?

There are many irregular plurals in English, too (for example, child - children, foot - feet, analysis - analyses, and so on), but this is a topic for a different lesson.

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