Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Plural of Syllabus

The Quick Answer
The plural of syllabus is syllabi or syllabuses.

The Plural of syllabus

The plural of syllabus is syllabi or syllabuses.
  • Syllabuses for examinations can change on almost a yearly basis.
  • College syllabi are handed out at the beginning of a course for students.
The noun syllabus has a Latin root, which is the derivation of the plural syllabi. Syllabuses (which adheres to the standard rules for forming plurals) is equally as acceptable.

The table below shows the standard rules for forming the plurals of nouns in English.

Type Example of Type Forming the Plural Plural
Most Nouns lamp
scythe
add s lamps
scythes
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z syllabus
dress
add es syllabuses
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 donkey
chimney
add s donkey
chimneys
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
hoof
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
hooves or hoofs
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
Foreign rulings syllabus
medium
some nouns adopt foreign rulings syllabi
media

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Syllabus?

Confusion arises over the plural of syllabus because its original plural form (syllabi) derives from Latin and native English speakers are drawn to syllabuses, which adheres to the standard ruling for forming plurals.

Both syllabuses and syllabi are acceptable. Of note, syllabi is becoming the more common plural. (See the evidence in Google's Ngram Viewer.)