Plural of Buffalo

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The plural of buffalo is buffaloes or buffalos..

The Plural of Buffalo

The plural of buffalo is buffaloes or buffalos..
  • Buffaloes will engage in mobbing behavior when fighting off predators.
  • In some areas, buffalos are still hunted for meat.
The noun buffalo adheres to the standard rules for forming the plurals of nouns in English (shown in the table below).

Type Example of Type Forming the Plural Plural
Most Nouns lamp
scythe
add s lamps
scythes
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z bus
dress
add es buses
dresses
Nouns ending [consonant] o buffalo
zero
tomato
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
buffaloes or buffalos
zeros
tomatoes
Nouns ending [vowel] o patio
ratio
add s patios
ratios
Nouns ending [consonant] y story
penny
change the y to an i and add es stories
pennies
Nouns ending [vowel] y storey ()
donkey
add s storeys
donkeys
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
knife
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
knives
Exceptions man
louse
some nouns undergo a vowel or letters change men
lice
More exceptions salmon
sheep
some nouns do not change at all salmon
sheep

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Buffalo?

There is confusion because the rule for forming plurals with nouns ending in o isn't straightforward. Most nouns will just add an s. For example:
  • Kangaroo becomes kangaroos.
  • Piano becomes pianos.
Some add es. For example:
  • Embargo becomes embargoes.
  • Torpedo becomes torpedoes.
With some words, both versions are accepted. For example:
  • Halo becomes haloes or halos.
  • Echo becomes echoes or echos.
The plural of buffalo can be either buffaloes or buffalos.. Unfortunately, there is no clever way of knowing which nouns ending o follow which rules. You have to know. (For example, you have to know that solo becomes solos, but potato becomes potatoes.)

Though buffaloes and buffalos are both accepted plurals, buffaloes is the more common of the two. (See the difference in Google's Ngram Viewer.)

Don't Use an Apostrophe to Form a Plural

Adding 's is never an option when forming the plural of a noun. Despite this simple rule, inexperienced writers often feel compelled to add an apostrophe, especially when the noun ends with a vowel (e.g., piano, tomato, emu). For example:
  • Animals that use echo's are cetaceans.
  • Animals that use echoes are cetaceans.
Read more about apostrophes and plurals.
Read more about using apostrophes.


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