Plural of Nebula

The Quick Answer
The plural of nebula is nebulae or nebulas.

The Plural of nebula

The plural of nebula is nebulae. The alternative plural nebulas is rare but still acceptable.
  • Most nebulae are of vast size; some are hundreds of light-years in diameter.
  • (Nebulae is the most accepted plural.)
  • In 1715, Edmond Halley published a list of six nebulas.
  • (Nebulas is less common but still correct.)
The noun nebula has a Greek root, which is the derivation of the plural nebulae. Nebulas (which adheres to the standard rules for forming plurals) is also an accepted plural.

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 nebula
scythe
add s nebulas
scythes
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z box
dress
add es boxes
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 donkeys
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 nebula
medium
some nouns adopt foreign rulings nebulae
media

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Nebula?

Confusion arises over the plural of nebula because its original plural form (nebulae) derives from Greek and native English speakers are drawn to nebulas, which adheres to the standard ruling for forming plurals.

Nebulae is by far the more common plural of the two. (See the difference in Google's Ngram Viewer.)

See Also

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