Everyone knows the most common way to make singular words plural in English; all you need is just to add an -s, but does it work with all nouns in English. How about bus? Can you say buss is the plural form of bus? But that is not all, there is a lot to regular and irregular plurals than meets the eye. We have nouns that do not change at all and we have other words that change dramatically, besides the cases where we need to decide whether an -s is enough to make plurals or an -es is required.

Listen to the podcast and learn all about it and while you are listening, you can check the information below or keep it for later to use as a reference.

Regular and Irregular Plurals Podcast

Regular and Irregular Plurals Reference Questions

Which nouns are made plural by adding a final -s to?

Most English nouns are. For example, song — songs

Which nouns are made plural by adding a final -es to?

nouns that end in -sh, -ch, -s, -z, and -x. For example, box —boxes

When do we change -y into -ies in plural?

We do that when the -y is preceded by a consonant. For example, baby — babies. However, if the -y is precede by a vowel, we just add an -s. For example, boy — boys.

Which nouns have irregular plurals that do not end with an -s?

man — menwoman — womenchild — childrenox — oxenfoot — feetgoose — geesetooth — teethmouse — micelouse — lice

Some nouns that end in -o add -es to form the plural.

echoes | potatoes | tomatoes | heroes

Some nouns that end in -o add -s to form the plural.

autos | ghettos | kangaroos | kilos | memos | photos | pianos | radios | solos | sopranos | studios | tattoos | videos

Some nouns that end in -o add either -es or -s to form the plural. (with -es being the more usual plural form).

mementoes/s | mosquitoes/s | tornadoes/s | volcanoes/s | zeroes/s

Some nouns that end in -f or -fe are changed to -ves to form the plural.

calf — calves | half — halves | knife — knives|leaf — leaves | life — lives | loaf — loaves | self — selves | shelf — shelves | thief — thieves | wolf — wolves | scarf — scarves/scarfs

Some nouns that end in -f simply add -s to form the plural.

belief — beliefs | chief — chiefs | cliff — cliffs | roof — roofs

Some nouns have the same singular and plural form.

deer | fish | means | offspring | series | sheep | shrimp | species

Some nouns that English has borrowed from other languages have foreign plurals.

– criterion — criteria | phenomenon — phenomena- cactus — cacti | fungus — fungi | nucleus — nuclei | stimulus — stimuli | syllabus — syllabi- formula — formulae/formulas | vertebra — vertebrae- appendix — appendices/appendixes | index — indices/indexes – analysis — analyses | basis — bases | crisis — crises | hypothesis — hypotheses| oasis — oases | parenthesis — parentheses | thesis — theses – bacterium — bacteria | curriculum — curricula | datum — | medium — media | memorandum — memoranda

Episode Transcript

0:05
Welcome to a new episode from perfect English with Danny. Today it’s about grammar. And we will be talking about something that a lot of you might take for granted. But believe me, this is the source of many common mistakes that people make every day. We’re going to talk about plural nouns, how to make nouns plural. And it might be as simple as just adding an S and it is, but the idea is that we’re not talking about regular plurals only. We’ll be also talking about irregular plural nouns. And no matter how good your English is, after today’s lesson, you will be learning a thing or two about irregular nouns. So let’s get to it. And let’s start talking about regular plural nouns first. Now obviously, the regular plural noun should only take no As we add an s, it becomes plural. If we say song we mean one. If we say songs with an S, we mean two or more. So the plural of most nouns is formed by adding final s, song songs, table tables, three threes, and the list is infinite because obviously, like 90%, or even 95% of English nouns are made plural by just adding an S, but that’s not it. What if we say box, if we say box, and let’s try to add an s what happens? It’s box but you know, just like even if you make the s a lot longer, it’s still box. It’s not going to show or at least sound plural. So in this case, we have to add s to make it sound right and to differentiate between box and the plural form boxes. So Here we add s. But how do we know when we should add an s? Well, we should look at the ending of the noun. If the noun ends with sh, ch, S, Zed and x, we add an s to make plural nouns. For example, when we say Bush, which ends in sh, the plural is Bush’s church which ends in ch becomes churches. Bus which ends in an S becomes buses, Buzz becomes buses. And obviously the example we just had here box becomes boxes. So far so good. We add an s to most nouns. If the nouns end in sh, ch, S, Zed, or x, we add an s Piece of cake. What about nouns that end in a consonant plus y? What do we do? Say for example, the word baby Do you think we should just put an S after y? Now, if you visualize it, if you just see how it goes on paper and babies b a, b, y s, you immediately feel that there’s something wrong. It doesn’t look right. And that’s true because the rule says, if a word ends in a consonant plus a Y, we change the Y, and we put I instead plus s and becomes babies be a bi e S. Now if the noun ends in a Y, but before the Y, we have a vowel sound like boy, we don’t change the Y we keep the y as is. And we just say boys, Bo, y s. And now I’m pretty sure you’re saying that Yeah, we know all this. If you know all this, of course, I’m very happy. So let’s jump to some irregular plural nouns.

3:52
And these follow no rules. You just need to know that the plural of this noun is this For example, the obvious examples actually are man, woman and child. Now men which is ma n in the plural becomes men, m e n woman, which is w o m a n in the plural becomes women, which is W OMEN. Now, the special thing about women and women is that we change the E towards the end of the word, but in the pronunciation, we change the pronunciation of the O in the beginning. So, you see, we say woman as one, and we men, so for spelling, we change the second part of the noun, instead of ma n, we say m e n, but in pronunciation, we change the first part of the noun we say, woman for one, women for two or more, and we have the word child child we don’t say two child’s or three child’s we say children, but we have other words as well. We have the word ox which becomes in the plural, oxen, foot becomes feet, goose becomes geese, tooth becomes teeth, mouse becomes mice, and Laos becomes lice. So all of these are irregular plural forms that do not end in s. Now we’ll be talking about some other irregular plural nouns that are not as obvious as the list I just mentioned. But first, let’s move to some common endings where we add s, or s. But the irregular thing about this is that we don’t have a rule to tell us when to put an S or when to put an E s, we just need to know we need to know that this word takes s or this word takes only s and that is when we talk about nouns that end in an O some of the words that end in an O take ies some of them take only s and some of them take Both, for example, the words echo hero potato, tomato. These take ies they become echoes with ies heroes with ies, potatoes, tomatoes with S. But if you look at the word, auto, kangaroo, kilo, memo photo piano radio, these words only taken s, we say autos, kilos, memos, photos, pianos radios with only an S o s at the end of the word. Now, don’t worry about memorizing all these words you don’t need to because I’m going to include a list of all these words on the website. And you can find a link to the website post in the description of this episode.

6:49
If you want to find a reference to what I’m saying, don’t worry about it. I got you covered. But now let’s continue. We said that we have words that end in an O that Take s, like echo and hero. And we have words that take s only like photo and piano. But we also said that we have words that end in an O that take both S and S or actually s or s, it’s up to you, whatever you say is good. And these words are like memento, mosquito, tornado volcano, and 04 volcano, for example, we can add s or s and both are right. And the same goes for the other words I just said. And now the same thing that we faced with words that end in n o happens with words that end in an F, because it’s the same sometimes we change the F we put a V instead with the s and sometimes we just add an s and there is no rule. We need to know the words. I will give you a couple of examples of words that end in an F where we change the F and we put v e s instead. And let me correct myself here they could end in an F or an F E, because we have the word knife for example, or life or we have the word half or shelf, or self or thief. Now for these words, if we want to make them plural, we have to change the F, put a V instead and add s. So knife becomes knives, life becomes lives, self becomes selves, and thief becomes thieves. But some other words that end in an F take only an S if we want to make them plural, like the words belief, Chief, Cliff and roof how we say beliefs not believes and chiefs, not Cheves cliffs and roofs, not rooves not cliffs. So that was about The words that end in an F, and now we have a different kind of irregular plural. And the different kind of irregular plural is that some nouns have the same singular and plural form. These words are like the words dear fish, offspring, sheep and shrimp. Now we say one deer to deer, 3d, etc. We say one fish, two fish, three fish. And by the way, you know, I would say that fishes is also possible, but it’s rarely used. The correct plural form of fish is fish, but you might have heard some people in movies or in other places, say to fishes, it is okay. It’s not a big deal. But to be on the safe side, always use the plural of fish as fish we say. One sheep, two sheep, one shrimp to shrimp and again for shrimp. It’s especially In British English like that, so they say one shrimp to shrimp in British English in American English, the plural of shrimp can be shrimps. It is okay, so the irregular thing here is that we have the same form of the noun in singular and implausible. And we come to the last type, which is, to be honest, the most challenging type of plural nouns, and this is for the nouns that are borrowed from other languages. And that’s why they have kind of strange plural forms. You might have used these words a lot, but you may not have noticed that you’re using the singular or the plural form. And some of these words are used usually in their plural form or in their singular form. So you might have not noticed that these words are different. There are some patterns to these words of course, based on the language they were borrows from now most of them are borrowed from Greek and Latin, so they happen to take the Greek or Latin plural endings, so We’ll start with the words criterion and phenomenon now criterion you might be tempted to say criterions phenomenon you might be tempted to say phenomenon, which is wrong Of course, because the word criterion becomes criteria criteria is the plural of criterion we say one criterion two criteria, three criteria etc, one phenomenon

11:24
two phenomena, three phenomena, four phenomena etc. So we just change the O n and we put a instead. That sounds strange Yes, because these words do not originally come from English we have a second pattern with words like cactus, fungus, nucleus, stimulus and syllabus. As you could notice these words end in us and if we change the US and put I instead we have a plural, so the plural of cactus is cacti. But to be honest cactuses, is also possible with cactus but the original plural of the word is cacti. For fungus the plural is funghi. For nucleus, the plural is nuclei for stimulus is stimuli for stimulus, its stimuli and syllabus become Silla by, or syllabuses which is also possible and now we come to a different pattern and that is words that ended in a like the words formula. And vertebra formula can be formulas with only one s and that is completely possible but the original plural of formula is formulae, which is a e vertebra vertebrae A e, not an S. And now for the next pattern, some words that end in an X but of course don’t take it as words end in an X in general, we talked about them before and we said words that end in an X takes s, but these remember these are borrowed words. These are not original English words. And these two words are app index and index. Now app index can become app indexes index can be indexes Of course, but the original plural of the word appendix becomes dependencies and index becomes indices, which is i n d IC e s instead of INDX. So different I know, but that is how it is. And now for the next pattern with words that end in si es like the words analysis, basis, crisis hypothesis oasys and thesis Now, you might be tempted to say analysis is but obviously, this sound strange or basis becomes basis is the words and in an S and according to the regular English rule, we should add an s, but here if we add an E s, it becomes weird. So, instead of adding e s After the si s, we change the si s and we make them s s. So we have analyses, s s, we have, we have hypotheses, we have parentheses, and we have theses s s instead of si s. And that is the plural form. And the final pattern we’re going to talk about today are words that end with IU M. And these are very famous words, I’m pretty sure that you’ve used these words many, many times, but usually in the plural form, not in the singular form. For example, the word bacteria. Now the word bacteria if you think about it, it sounds singular. But if you think again about the word bacteria, we’re talking about only one are we talking about plural. So actually, the word bacteria is plural. We don’t usually use the singular word of bacteria. Unless we’re biologists and we’re talking about a specific kind of bacterium. We don’t use Usually mentioned bacterium, we usually say bacteria. And the same goes for the word curriculum, which we usually use in singular. And the plural for curriculum is curricula, not curriculums. And the word that we use all the time data. Now data again, is not a singular now, the singular noun of data is datum, da te UM, the word media that which we use all the time is also plural. We’re not talking about one medium, medium is the singular now, and the last one memorandum, we usually use the short form we say memo, and for a memo, we usually say memos, but if you want to use the full word memorandum, the plural from memorandum is memoranda. So that was all about singular and plural nouns both regular and irregular. I hope you learn something new today, and there is a quiz Don’t miss the quiz. I’m going to leave the link to the quiz in the description of the episode and If you want to see the full list of everything we talked about in this episode, also follow another link that will take you to the website where you can find everything we talked about for your reference. So don’t

16:12
forget, we have the link to the website and we have the quiz. Check both links, take the quiz and just test your knowledge because trust me, these things can be tricky and you can easily make a mistake using one of these words. So I hope you like the episode today. This is your host Danny saying thank you very much for listening to another episode from perfect English with Danny. I’ll see you again in other episodes. Stay tuned.

Join English Plus Podcast Community.

English Plus Podcast