Plural of Scarf

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The Quick Answer
The plural of scarf is scarfs or scarves.

The Plural of Scarf

The plural of scarf is scarfs or scarves.
  • The most common materials used to make fashion scarves are silk, fleece, pashmina and cashmere.
  • My mother handed down all these amazing scarves from the sixties and seventies, and I have a hundred of them. (Kelly Wearstler)
The noun scarf 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 loaf
scarf
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
loaves
scarfs or scarves
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 scarf?

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.
  • Wolf becomes wolves.
Some just add s. For example:
  • Safe becomes safes.
  • Cliff becomes cliffs.
With some words, both versions are accepted. For example:
  • Dwarf becomes dwarves or dwarfs.
  • Hoof becomes hoofs or hooves.
The plural of scarf can be either scarfs or scarves. Unfortunately, there is no clever way of knowing which nouns ending f or fe follow which rules. You have to know.

Though scarfs and scarves are both accepted plurals, scarves is the more common of the two. (See the difference in Google's Ngram Viewer.)
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