Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Plural of Cello

The Quick Answer
The plural of cello is cellos.

The Plural of Cello

The plural of cello is cellos.
  • Cellos are a critical part of orchestral music.
  • The back of a cello is traditionally hand-carved, but less expensive cellos are often machine-produced.
The noun cello 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 cello
tomato
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
cellos
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 Cello?

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:
  • Solo becomes solos.
  • Piano becomes pianos.
Some add es. For example:
  • Hero becomes heroes.
  • Torpedo becomes torpedoes.
With some words, both versions are accepted. For example:
  • Buffalo becomes buffaloes or buffalos.
  • Halo becomes haloes or halos.
The plural of cello is always cellos. 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 cello becomes cellos, but hero becomes heroes.)

Beware

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:
  • Young kangaroo's are called joeys.
  • Young kangaroos are called joeys.
Read more about apostrophes and plurals.
Read more about using apostrophes.