Plural Nouns in English


There are many nouns in English. Nouns can either be singular or plural. It is usually easy to create plural nouns in English, but there are some exceptions. In this lesson, you will learn regular plural nouns rules and irregular plural nouns rules. At the end, you can practice with Plural Nouns Worksheets.

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Singular and plural nouns

An English noun is a word that names a person, place, or thing.

Examples: Tim, Lisa, Mexico, New York City, house, dog, cat, chair, boy, girl, school

A singular noun (apple, pencil, girl) refers to one person or thing.

one apple

A plural noun (apples, pencils, girls) refers to more than one person or thing.

four apples


It is usually easy to create plural nouns in English by adding -s to the singular form, but there are some exceptions to keep in mind. In this lesson, you will learn the regular and irregular plural nouns rules.

man writing


Plural nouns rules

1. Add -s

You can make the plural form of most nouns by adding -s to the singular form.


Examples:

  • dog => dogs

  • cup => cups

  • girl => girls

  • television => televisions

  • desk => desks

  • school => schools

  • book => books

  • number => numbers

  • computer => computers

  • chip => chips

  • boy => boys
boy
boys


2. Nouns ending in -ch, -s, -sh, -x, or -z

    If the noun ends in -ch, -s, -sh, -x, or -z, add -es to form plural
    nouns.



Examples:

  • beach => beaches

  • church => churches

  • class => classes

  • gas => gases

  • waltz => waltzes

  • wish => wishes

  • box => boxes

  • fox => foxes

foxfox


3. Nouns ending in -f or -fe

    If the
noun ends in -f /-fe, change the f / fe to -ves to form plurals.


Examples:
  • knife => knives

  • wolf => wolves

  • hoof => hooves

  • wife => wives

  • self => selves

  • elf => elves

  • life => lives

  • loaf => loaves

  • half => halves

  • leaf => leaves
leaves


4. Nouns ending in -o

   
    If the
noun ends in -o, add -es to form plural nouns.


Examples:
  • buffalo => buffaloes

  • potato => potatoes

  • echo => echoes

  • tomato => tomatoes

  • hero => heroes

  • volcano => volcanoes

5. Nouns ending in y


    If a noun ends in a vowel then -y, add -s.


Examples:
  • boy => boys

  • toy => toys

  • valley => valleys

  • day => days
calendar

   If a noun ends in a consonant then -y, remove -y and add -ies.

Examples:
  • baby => babies

  • bunny => bunnies

  • pony => ponies

  • jelly => jellies

  • sky => skies

  • lady => ladies
ladies


Irregular plural nouns

Some nouns in English have an irregular plural form. That means that the plural form does not follow the rules above. It is important to memorize the most common ones.

irregular plural nouns chart


Identical singular and plural forms

Some nouns in English have the same singular and plural forms. This means that you don’t add an -s to these words. It is important to memorize these.


Examples:
  • fish => fish (fishes is correct, but much less common)

  • deer => deer (not deers)

  • moose => moose (not mooses)

  • series => series (not serieses)

  • species => species (not specieses)

  • aircraft => aircraft (not aircrafts)

  • salmon => salmon (not salmons)

  • shrimp => shrimp (shrimps is also correct)

  • sheep => sheep (not sheeps)

sheep


Plural-only nouns

Some nouns in English do not have a singular form. They are only plural. This means that we cannot use them as singular nouns.

Many of these plural-only nouns are used with the word pair.


Examples:
  • clothes

  • pajamas

  • leftovers

  • pants => a pair of pants

  • trousers => a pair of trousers

  • scissors => a pair of scissors

  • glasses => a pair of glasses
glasses


Countable and uncountable nouns

Most nouns in English are countable nouns. This means we can say how many there are of the noun.


Examples:
  • girl => five girls

  • boy => one boy

  • fish => ten fish

  • dog => three dogs
three dogs

Some nouns are uncountable nouns. This means that we cannot say how many there are of the noun. These  nouns are always singular and are used with a singular verb.


Examples:
  • sugar => Sugar is sweet.

  • milk => The milk is in the cup.

  • coffee => The coffee is fresh.

  • money => Money makes me happy.

  • food => The food is spicy.

  • work => The work is too hard.

  • hope => Hope keeps dreams alive.

  • water => The water is cold.

  • electricity => The electricity is off.

  • love => Love is important.

  • news => The news was surprising. 
newspaper


Compound nouns

To create the plural form of a compound noun, the plural ending is usually added to the main noun.


Examples:
  • sister-in-law => sisters-in-law

  • full moon => full moons

  • stepsister => stepsisters

  • sportsman => sportsmen

  • lady-in-waiting => ladies-in-waiting

  • toothbrush => toothbrushes

  • doctor of philosophy => doctors of philosophy

You can learn more about English compound nouns here: Compound Nouns (soon to come!)


Collective nouns

Collective nouns are nouns that describe a group, for example: class, family, herd, couple.

There are about 200 collective nouns in English. Some are used as singular nouns, and some are used as plural nouns. Unfortunately, there are no good rules for knowing if a collective noun should be used as a singular noun or a plural noun.

Many collective nouns can be singular OR plural depending on how they are used in a sentence.

Here is one way to decide if a collective noun is singular or plural:


Singular collective nouns

When members of the group of a collective noun do things as a group or team, the collective noun is singular. Use a singular verb.


Examples:

  • class => The class is watching a movie. (It is watching a movie.)

  • herd => The herd moves fast. (It moves fast.)

  • United States => The United States celebrates Christmas in December. (It celebrates Christmas in December.)

  • family => The family takes a picture. (It takes a picture.)

    family


Plural collective nouns

When members of the group of a collective noun do things as individuals, the collective noun is plural. Use a plural verb.


Examples:

  • police => The police protect the people. (They protect the people.)

  • people => The people watch the parade. (They watch the parade.)

  • family => My family are always fighting amongst themselves. (They are always fighting amongst themselves.)
woman yellingman yelling

In American English, most collective nouns are used as singular nouns.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Collective nouns are different in different forms of English.

You can learn more about English collective nouns here: Collective Nouns


Practice plural noun rules

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