Nouns : Singular & Plural

Nouns : Singular & Plural

There are a number of different rules when it comes to making nouns plural…

A noun that refers to a SINGLE object or person is SINGULAR in number. A noun which refers to MORE THAN one object or person is said to be PLURAL in number. The The plurals of nouns can be formed in a number of different ways.


1. A plural is most often formed by simply adding an ‘s’ at the end of the singular form of the noun:

eg. boy: boys, dog: dogs, tree: trees, etc.

This also works for nouns ending in ‘y’ but only where the letter before the ‘y’ is a vowel.

eg: boy: boys, day: days, turkey: turkeys, tray: trays.

2. If a noun ends in ‘s’,’sh’,’ch’or ‘x’, the plural is formed by adding ‘es’.

Eg: boxes, churches, thrushes, passes, etc.

3. If the noun ends in ‘y’ and the letter before the ‘y’ is a consonant then the plural is formed by changing the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and adding’es’.

eg: berry: berries, cherry: cherries, bunny: bunnies, factory: factories, etc.

4. Sometimes, but not always, nouns that end in ‘f’ make their plurals by changing the ‘f’ to a ‘v’ then adding ‘-es’.

eg: leaf: leaves, loaf: loaves, half: halves, thief: thieves.

You need to remember that some nouns do not follow this rule…

belief, roof, oaf, gulf become beliefs, roofs, oafs, gulfs, etc.

Nouns ending in ‘-fe’ change the ‘f’ to a ‘v’ and add ‘-es’.

5. Nouns ending in ‘o’ sometimes just add ‘s’ but others add ‘-es’.

eg: potatoes, heroes, volcanoes, tomatoes, echoes; pianos, solos, zeros, avocados, studios.

6. Some nouns do not exist as singular nouns-they always come in pairs.

eg. scissors, trousers, pants, shorts, pliers. tweezers, spectacles, braces, etc.

7. Some nouns are the same in the singular and the plural form.

eg. sheep, deer, salmon, grouse.

8. Some nouns change the vowel or add (r)en

eg. foot. feet, man:men. woman:women, goose:geese, ox:oxen, child:children.

9. Finally, some compound nouns are made plural by adding ‘s’ to the first word:

e.g. sons-in-law, passers- by, jacks-in-the- box, mothers-in-law.

A note about singular and plural when it comes to collective nouns:

Singular means one plural means more than one. Collective nouns are usually singular because they centre on all the individuals in the group acting as one. In this case the verb that describes the groups actions will be singular.:

  • The team is winning
  • The pride of lions is hunting buffalo

However, when a sentence is hi-lighting the behaviour of individuals in the group then the collective noun is regarded as plural and the corresponding verb will be plural:

  • The team are working well together tonight. 
  • The lions have attacked and the herd are scattering in all directions.