English Learner Article Spelling Plural Nouns

Summary: A look at the rules for making nouns plural in English.

By: |Audience: All|Category: Spelling


Nouns that take -es:

Nouns ending with -ch, -s, -sh, -x (xe) ,-z (ze), add -es:

  • match --> matches
  • glass --> glasses
  • flash --> flashes
  • tax --> taxes
  • blaze --> blazes

Nouns that end in -o:

Most add -es:

  • hero -->heroes
  • potato --> potatoes

There are some exceptions:

  • kangaroo --> kangaroos
  • piano --> piano
  • studio --> studios
  • zoo --> zoos

Some can follow either form:

  • buffalo --> buffalos or buffaloes
  • cargo --> cargos or cargoes
  • motto --> mottos or mottoes
  • volcano --> volcanos or volcanoes

Nouns ending consonant + -y:

Change -y to -i and add -es:

  • Baby --> babies
  • Therapy --> therapies

Nouns that end in -f or -fe:

Change the -f to -v and add -es

  • Leaf --> leaves
  • Shelf --> shelves

NB: There are some exceptions:

  • Belief --> beliefs
  • Cliff --> cliffs
  • Cuff --> cuffs
  • Dwarf --> dwarfs
  • Gulf --> gulfs
  • Roof --> roofs

With loan words

Nouns ending -is:

Change -is to -es

  • Analysis --> analyses
  • Basis --> bases
  • Thesis --> theses

Nouns ending -um:

Either change -um to -a

  • Datum --> data
  • Forum --> fora

NB- Nowadays, simply adding -s is often used (forums, etc), but less so with technical words, and never with 'datum'.

Nouns ending -on:

Change -on to -a:

  • Criterion --> criteria
  • Phenomenon --> phenomena

Nouns ending -a:

Add -e:

  • Antenna --> anntennae
  • Formula --> formulae

Nouns ending -ex or -ix

Replace the last two letter with -ices:

  • Appendix --> appendices
  • Index --> iindices

Nouns ending -us:

There are two ways we make the plural:

Replace the last two letters with -i:

  • Stimulus --> stimuli

Replace the last two letters with -a:

  • Corpus --> corpora

Nouns ending -eau:

Add -x

  • Bureau --> bureaux