Forming Plurals in English (with Table of Endings)

by Craig Shrives

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Spelling Rules for Forming Plurals

Most nouns are made plural by adding s to the end. However, there are many other ways to form plurals, depending on the ending of the word.

Table of Plural Endings

Here is a table showing the rules for forming plurals 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 dress add es 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 journey
donkey
add s journeys
donkeys
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

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Words Taken from Foreign Languages

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

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See Also

List of unusual plurals Quirks with forming plurals Forming the plurals of abbreviations Forming the plurals of compound nouns Another test on forming plurals (Key Stage 1 style)

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