Plural of Hair

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Hair is singular when it refers to an entire head of hair (e.g., brown hair, blonde hair, curly hair).
When describing individual strands of hair, the plural is hairs.

The Plural of Hair

When describing an entire head covered with individual hairs, hair is treated as a single object or group, which is why it is referred to in a singular form.
  • I washed my hair this morning.
  • (Here, hair is refering to the entire head. It is a mass noun.)
  • I found three gray hairs this morning.
  • (Here, hairs refers to three individual strands. They are countable.)

Are You Good at Plurals?

Here's a quick test.
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The Standard Rules for Forming the Plurals

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 hair
scythe
add s hairs
scythes
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z bus
dress
add es buses
dresses
Nouns ending [consonant] o mango
zero
tomato
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
mangoes or mangos
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 monkey
donkey
add s monkeys
donkeys
Mass nouns hair
rice
some nouns do not have a plural form
hair
rice
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
knife
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
knives
Exceptions goose
louse
some nouns undergo a vowel or letters change geese
lice
More exceptions salmon
sheep
some nouns have their own rules salmon
sheep

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of hair?

Confusion arises because hair is typically a mass noun. A mass noun is a noun without a plural form. Mass nouns refer to things that can't be counted (e.g., rice, milk, chalk).

When refering to strands of hair, hair can be countable. The plural is hairs.

Another Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from another exercise on plurals, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Unusual pluralsPlural forming table Quirks with forming plurals Forming the plurals of abbreviations Forming the plurals of compound nouns