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    • Join Date: May 2010
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    #1

    y/ies

    Hello

    I'm trying to find the reason why we drop the y and add the -ies in order
    to make a plural noun from a singular. Such as,

    hobby -> hobbies
    lady -> ladies
    ......



    I think it's somewhat related
    to the pronunciation of words ending with -y but it's still hard
    to draw a clear picture. Is this JUST A RULE or
    does anyone know the reason.

  1. Senior Member
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    #2

    Re: y/ies

    A learner

    Nouns ending in y which follows a consonant form their plural by dropping the y and adding ies.

    body bodies, mummy mummies, pony ponies

    Nouns that end in y following a vowel form their plural by not dropping the y but adding s at the end of the word.

    toy toys, galley galleys

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    #3

    Re: y/ies

    Before the Chambers Encyclopaedia, people spelt words as they pleased. Shakespeare usually used -ie in the singular rather than -y, e.g. "a strange countrie." I suppose -ys looks too short, and resembles Tethys and other Greek names too much. So, given that -ies and -ys both existed, people preferred the former in the plural while opting for -y in the singular.

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    #4

    Re: y/ies

    Not a teacher.

    It is an oversimplification, but I bet that in Middle English many of these words ended in "i" ("ladi" etc.) or "ie" ("citie"); back then the plural form was created by adding -es (-s), so it was "ladies" and "cities" respectively. Over time final "i"/"ie" has changed into "y", but the plural form has remained the same.

    Btw. note that with verbs it is exactly the opposite: "-ie" becomes "-y", e.g. die-dying.

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