Plural of Loaf

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The Quick Answer
The plural of loaf is loaves.

The Plural of Loaf

The plural of loaf is loaves.
  • Only a century ago, a typical Frenchman ate approximately 3 loaves of bread per day.
  • A wheat crop will produce an average of 7.5 tonnes of grain per hectare – that's enough to make 11,500 loaves of bread.
The noun loaf adheres to the standard rules for forming the plurals of nouns in English (shown in the table below).

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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 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 dwarf
loaf
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
loaves
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 Loaf?

There is confusion because the rule for forming plurals with nouns ending in f or fe isn't straightforward. Most nouns will drop the f or fe and gain a ves. For example:
  • Knife becomes knives.
  • Leaf becomes leaves.
Some just add s. For example:
  • Safe becomes safes.
  • 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 loaf is always loaves. Unfortunately, there is no clever way of knowing which nouns ending f or fe follow which rules. You have to know. (For example, you have to know that loaf becomes loaves, but belief becomes beliefs.)

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