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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.

hero - heroes

mosquito - mosquitoes

tomato - tomatoes

zero - zeroes

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

bio (from biography) - bios

dynamo (from dynamoelectric machine) - dynamos

hippo (from hippopotamus) - hippos

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.

avocado - avocados or avocadoes

domino - dominos or dominoes

echo - echos or echoes

flamingo - flamingos or flamingoes

grotto - grottos or grottoes

mango - mangos or mangoes

tornado - tornados or tornadoes

volcano - volcanos or volcanoes

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 the Y to -ies.

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.

knife - knives

leaf - leaves

life - lives

wife - wives

wolf - wolves

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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