The Plural Form of Words

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The Plural Form of Words

The word "plural" means "more than one in number." So, the plural form of the word "cat" is "cats," and the plural form of "mouse" is "mice." (Plural is the opposite of singular.)

The term "plural" does not just apply to nouns (e.g., cats, mice), it also applies to pronouns, determiners, and verbs. For example:
Word TypeExample in the
Singular Form
Example in the
Plural Form
Noun
  • ant
  • man
  • child
  • ants
  • men
  • children
  • Determiner
  • this
  • that
  • these
  • those
  • Pronoun
  • I
  • he
  • she
  • it
  • him
  • her
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • us
  • them
  • Verb
  • I am
  • he plays
  • it is trying
  • you are
  • they play
  • they are trying

  • the plural forms of words

    Forming the Plurals of Nouns

    In most cases, a noun will form its plural by adding "s" to the singular form. For example:
    • 1 dog > 2 dogs
    • 1 house > 2 houses
    • 1 video > 2 videos
    The spelling rules for forming the plurals of nouns (e.g., whether to add "s," "es," or "ies") usually depend on how the noun ends. However, the ending can also depend on a noun's derivation (e.g., "stadia" is acceptable plural of "stadium" due to its Latin derivation). Here are some pages about forming the plurals of nouns: Warning: You must not insert your own apostrophe before the "s" when forming a plural. This is a serious grammar mistake.

    What Are the Plural Pronouns?

    The plural personal pronouns are "we," "you," and "they." They contrast with the singular personal pronouns, which are "I," "you," "he," "she," and "it." (NB: The personal pronoun "you" can be both singular or plural. That's because you can say "you" to mean one person or several.)

    Here are the personal pronouns in a table with their full names (plural pronouns shaded):
    PronounName
    Ifirst person singular
    Yousecond person singular
    He / She / Itthird person singular
    Wefirst person plural
    Yousecond person plural
    Theythird person plural

    What Is the Plural Form of a Verb?

    The plural form of a verb is the form that fits with a plural subject. Look at these examples (the plural verbs are shaded):
    PronounNameExample Verb
    Past Tense
    Example Verb
    Present Tense
    Example Verb
    Future Tense
    Ifirst person singularI ateI eatI will eat
    Yousecond person singularYou ate You eat You will eat
    He / She / Itthird person singularHe ate He eatsHe will eat
    Wefirst person pluralWe ateWe eatWe will eat
    Yousecond person pluralYou ateYou eatYou will eat
    Theythird person pluralThey ateThey eatThey will eat

    The English language is quite unusual because the singular and plural forms of verbs in each tense are identical. The only exception is the third-person-singular form in the present tense (shown in red). This is the main reason why English is easy for foreigners to learn. In many other languages, there would be a different spelling in every single box in the table above.

    Read more about subject-verb agreement.

    What Are Plural Demonstrative Determiners?

    The demonstrative determiners (called demonstrative adjectives in traditional grammar) are "this," "that," "these," and "those."

    The singular ones are "this" and "that." The plural ones are "these" and "those."

    This is worth knowing because "these" and "those" must be paired with a plural word. In others, you cannot say:
    • These kind of things.
    You must say:
    • These kinds of things.

    Forming the Plurals of Foreign Words

    Words "stolen" from other languages form their plurals in a variety of ways. Examples:
    • stadium > stadia or stadiums
    • (Through common usage, the plural "stadiums" is acceptable too.)
    • datum > data
    • radius > radii or radiuses
    • (Through common usage, the plural "radiuses" is acceptable too.)
    • agendum > agenda
    Here is a list of awkward plurals in English.

    "Plural" Also Applies to Zero

    Somewhat counter-intuitively, the word "plural" also applies to zero. Look at this list.
    • 0 dogs (plural)
    • 1 dog (singular)
    • 2 dogs (plural)
    • 3 dogs (plural)
    Now look at this example:
    • There are no alligators in the lake.
    • (Note that "no" attracts the plural verb "are" and the plural noun "alligators.")
    Interactive Exercise
    Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

    See Also

    Unusual plurals Forming plurals of compound nouns Forming plurals (table) Forming the plurals of abbreviations