Plural of Safe

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
The plural of safe is safes.

The Plural of Safe

The plural of safe is safes.
  • Some safes contain hardware that automatically dispense cash.
  • Jewellers often keep their gems in the safes during weekends and holidays.
The noun safe 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
add s lamps
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z bus
add es buses
Nouns ending [consonant] o hero
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
Nouns ending [vowel] o patio
add s patios
Nouns ending [consonant] y story
change the y to an i and add es stories
Nouns ending [vowel] y storey ()
add s storeys
Nouns ending f or fe loaf
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
Exceptions man
some nouns undergo a vowel or letters change men
More exceptions salmon
some nouns do not change at all salmon
Read more about English spelling rules.

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Safe?

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

Of note, the verb to save (which means to keep safe or to rescue) becomes saves in the third person present tense. (For example: He saves injured owls.)

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See Also

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

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