If you’re learning English, you’ve probably encountered some confusion when it comes to forming plurals. Even native English speakers sometimes struggle with plural forms, especially when it comes to words borrowed from other languages or words that don’t follow the usual rules. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of forming plurals in English and some tips to help you remember the rules. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced English learner, mastering plurals is an essential part of improving your language skills. So let’s dive in!
The general rule to form plurals in English is adding -s to a singular noun. One jar becomes two jars in the plural form.
Forming plurals in English
There are multiple ways to form plurals of singular nouns and the general rule (adding-s to a singular noun) is the most common, but there are several exceptions to that rule.
The general rule to form plurals
The general rule to make plural forms of singular nouns is adding -s to a singular noun. Take a look at the examples below.
- one apple – two apples
- one table – two tables
- one key – two keys
- one door – two doors
Exceptions to the general rule
The general rule is used in many cases and will get you quite far, but there are many exceptions as well. Take a look at the exceptions below.
Noun ending in sibilant
You add -es when a singular noun ends in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -s.
- one wish – two wishes
- one bus – two buses
In some cases, you need to double -s or -z before adding -es.
- one gas – two gasses
Noun ending in -f or -fe
When a singular noun ends in -f or -fe, you usually change -f or -fe into -ve before adding -s.
- one wive – two wives
- one leaf – two leaves
Noun ending in -y
When a singular noun ends in -y and the letter right before -y is a consonant, -y changes into -ies in the plural form. When the final letter before -y is a vowel, you follow the general rule by adding -s to the noun.
- one baby – two babies
- one buggy – two buggies
- one boy – two boys
Noun ending in -o
In most cases, you add -es to the singular noun when it ends in -o.
- one tomato – two tomatoes
- one potato – two potatoes
There are some exceptions:
- one piano – two pianos
- one photo – two photos
Noun ending in -us
When a singular noun ends in -us, the plural form usually ends in -i.
- one cactus – two cacti
Noun ending in -on
When a singular noun ends in -on, the plural form ends in -a.
- one phenomenon – two phenomena
Noun ending in -is
When a singular noun ends in -is, the plural form ends in -es.
- one analysis – two analyses
There are many irregular plurals in English and these nouns don’t follow the rules listed above. If you want to use irregular plurals, you need to study them because you can’t form them by following certain rules. Some examples of irregular plurals are:
- a man – men
- a woman – women
Click here for a complete overview of the irregular plural nouns in English.
Plural Forms in English: Overview
|regular nouns||singular noun + s||one car – two cars|
|ending in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, -z||singular noun + es|
(sometimes ss/zz+ es)
|one cache – two caches|
|ending in -f or -fe||singular noun – f + ve + s||one life – two lives|
|ending in a consonant + -y||singular noun – y + ies||one baby – two babies|
|ending in -o||singular noun + es (in most cases)||one potato – two potatoes|
|ending in -us||singular noun – us + i (in most cases)||one cactus – two cacti|
|ending in -on||singular noun – on + a||one phenomenon – two phenomena|
|ending in -is||singular noun – is + es||one analysis – two analyses|
|irregular nouns||irregular||one man – two men|