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Plural of Thief

What Is the Plural of Thief?

homesitemapA-Z plurals thief

The Quick Answer

The plural of "thief" is "thieves."
The plural of "thief" is "thieves."
  • We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. (Aesop) correct tick
  • Before they cleaned themselves up, they were thieves, thugs, and junkies. correct tick
The noun "thief" 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 (small British flag)
donkey
add s storeys
donkeys
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
thief
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
thieves
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
Read more about English spelling rules.

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Thief?

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:
  • "Scarf" becomes "scarfs" or "scarves."
  • "Dwarf" becomes "dwarfs" or "dwarves."
The plural of "thief" is always "thieves." 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 "thief" becomes "thieves," but "brief" becomes "briefs.")

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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