Plural Nouns in English Grammar

Introduction

Nouns in English grammar can be used in their singular or plural form. We use singular nouns when there is just one of something, and plural nouns when there is more than one. Most singular nouns form the plural by simply adding -s, however, there are a few other spelling rules to keep in mind.

Learn the spelling rules for English plural nouns with Lingolia’s online grammar explanations. Then test your knowledge in the exercises.

Example

the banknotes

the coins

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Spelling Rules

Most nouns take an -s to form the plural.

Example:
a car – two cars

Exceptions

  • Nouns that in in -s, -ch, -x, -z form the plural with -es.
    Example:
    a box – two boxes

    A -z at the end of a noun is also doubled.

    Example:
    a quiz – two quizzes
  • A -y after a consonant becomes -ie before adding -s.
    Example:
    a city – two cities
    But: a -y after a vowel doesn’t change!
    Example:
    a boy – two boys
  • Nouns that end in -o often form the plural with -es.
    Example:
    a tomato – two tomatoes

    But: nouns that end with vowel + o, abbreviations, and nouns that originate from foreign languages form the plural with -s only.

    Example:
    a radio – two radios

    vowel + -o

    a piano – two pianos

    comes from Italian

    a kilo – two kilos

    abbreviation

  • Many nouns that end with -f or -fe change to -v before adding -es.
    Example:
    a wolf – two wolves
    a knife – two knives
    a wife – two wives
    (but e.g.: a roof – two roofs)

Irregular Plural Endings

Some nouns have special plural forms that need to be learned separately. Below is a list of common English nouns with irregular plural endings:

Example:
a man – two men
a woman – two women
a child – two children
a mouse – two mice
a foot – two feet
a person – two people

No Plural Ending

Some nouns have the same form in the plural as they do in the singular. For example:

  • some nouns whose singular form ends with -s (e.g. crossroads, headquarters, means, series, species, Swiss)
    Example:
    a species – two species
  • means of transportation that end with craft
    Example:
    an aircraft – two aircraft
  • certain animals (e.g. deer, fish, salmon, sheep, trout)
    Example:
    a sheep – two sheep