Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Plural of Safe

The Quick Answer
The plural of safe is safes.

The Plural of Safe

The plural of safe is safes.
  • Some safes contain hardware that automatically dispense cash.
  • Jewellers often keep their gems in the safes during weekends and holidays.
The noun safe 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 hero
zero
tomato
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
heroes
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 loaf
safe
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
loaves
safes
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 Safe?

There is confusion because the rule for forming the plurals of nouns ending fe or f isn't straightforward. Most nouns will drop the fe or f and gain a ves. For example:
  • Knife becomes knives.
  • Leaf becomes leaves.
Some just add s. For example:
  • Roof becomes roofs.
  • Chief becomes chiefs.
With some words, both versions are accepted. For example:
  • Scarf becomes scarfs or scarves.
  • Dwarf becomes dwarfs or dwarves.
The plural of safe is always safes. Unfortunately, there is no clever way of knowing which nouns ending fe or f follow which rules. You have to know. (For example, you have to know that knife becomes knives, but safe becomes safes.)

Of note, the verb to save (which means to keep safe or to rescue) becomes saves in the third person present tense. (For example: He saves injured owls.)