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Plural Nouns




Plural Nouns :


Number is that property of substantives which shows whether they indicate one person, place or thing or more than one.

There are two numbers - the singular and the plural.

The singular number denotes but one person, place, or thing. The plural number denotes more than one person, place or thing.



1. Most nouns form the plural number by adding s or es to the singular.

Examples :

mat, mats

wave, waves

problem, problems

bough, boughs

John, Johns

nurse, nurses

tense, tenses

bench, benches

dish, dishes

class, classes

fox, foxes

Special Rules



2. If the singular ends in s, x, z, ch or sh, the plural ending is es.

Examples :

loss, losses

box, boxes

buzz, buzzes

match, matches

rush, rushes



3. Many nouns ending in o preceded by a consonant also take the ending es in the plural.

Examples :

hero, heroes

cargo, cargoes

potato, potatoes

motto, mottoes

buffalo, buffaloes

mosquito, mosquitoes



4. Nouns ending in o preceded by a vowel form their plural in s.

Examples :

cameo, cameos

folio, folios



5. The following nouns ending in o preceded by a consonant also form their plural in s.

Examples :

banjo

bravo

burro

cantocasino

chromo

contralto

duodecimo

dynamo

halo

junto

lasso

memento

octavo

piano

proviso

quarto

solo

soprano

stiletto

torso

tyro

zero

In some nouns the addition of the plural ending alters the spelling and even the sound of the singular form.



6. Nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant change y to i and add es in the plural.

Examples :

sky, skies

fly, flies

country, countries

berry, berries

Contrast :

valley, valleys chimney, chimneys monkey, monkeys boy, boys day, days



7. Most proper names ending in y, however, take the plural in s.

Examples :

Mary, Marys

Murphy, Murphys

Daly, Dalys

Rowley, Rowleys

May, Mays



8. Some nouns ending in f or fe change the f to v and add es or s.

Examples :

wharf, wharves

wife, wives

shelf, shelves

wolf, wolves

thief, thieves

knife, knives

half, halves

calf, calves

life, lives

self, selves

sheaf, sheaves

loaf, loaves

leaf, leaves

elf, elves

beef, beeves



9. A few nouns form their plural in en.

ox, oxen

brother, brethren (or brothers)

child, children

Note : Ancient or poetical plurals belonging to this class are: eyne (for eyen, from eye), kine (cows), shoon (shoes), hosen (hose).



10.A few nouns form their plural by a change of vowel.

Examples :

man, men

woman, women

merman, mermen

foot, feet

tooth, teeth

goose, geese

mouse, mice

louse, lice



11. Also compound words ending in man or woman, such as fireman, firemen; saleswoman, saleswomen; Dutchman, Dutchmen.

Note : German, Mussulman, Ottoman, dragoman, firman, and talisman, which are not compounds of man, form their plurals regularly as Germans, Mussulmans. Norman also forms its plural in s.



12. A few nouns have the same form in both singular and plural.

Examples : deer, sheep, heathen, Japanese, Portuguese, Iroquois.

Note : This class was larger in older English than at present. It included, for example, year, which in Shakspere has two plurals - six thousand years, twelve year since.



13. A few nouns have two plurals, but usually with some difference in meaning.

Examples :

Singular…..Plural

brother …..brothers (relatives) and brethren (members of the same society)

horse…..horses (animals) and horse (cavalry)

foot…..feet (parts of the body) and foot (infantry)

sail…..sails (on vessels) and sail (vessels in a fleet)

head…..heads (in usual sense) and head (of cattle)

fish…..fishes (individually) and fish (collectively)

penny…..pennies (single coins) and pence (collectively)

cloth…..cloths (pieces of cloth) and clothes (garments)

die…..dies (for stamping) and dice (for gaming)

The pennies were arranged in neat piles.

English money is reckoned in pounds, shillings and pence.



14. When compound nouns are made plural, the last part usually takes the plural form…less often the first part and rarely both parts.

Examples :

spoonful…..spoonfuls

bathhouse…..bathhouses

forget-me-not…..forget-me-nots

editor-in-chief…..editors-in-chief

maid-of-honor…..maids-of-honor

gentleman usher…..gentlemen ushers

Knight Templar…..Knights Templars

Lord Justice…..Lords Justices

manservant…..menservants



15. Letters of the alphabet, figures, signs used in writing and words regarded merely as words take ’s in the plural.

“Embarrassed" is spelled with two r’s and two s’s.

Your 3’s look like 8’s.

Tell the printer to change the 8’s to 3’s.

Don’t interrupt me with your but’s!



16. Foreign nouns in English sometimes retain their foreign plurals. But many have an English plural also.

Some of the commonest are included in the following list.

Examples :

Singular…..Plural

alumna (feminine) …..alumnæ

alumnus (masculine) …..alumni

amanuensis…..amanuenses

analysis…..analyses

animalculum…..animalcula

antithesis…..antitheses

appendix…..appendices and appendixes

axis…..axes

bacillus…..bacilli

bacterium…..bacteria

bandit…..banditti and bandits

basis…..bases

beau…..beaux and beaus

candelabrum…..candelabra

cumulus…..cumuli

cherub…..cherubim and cherubs

crisis…..crises

curriculum…..curricula

datum…..data

ellipsis…..ellipses

erratum…..errata

formula…..formulæ and formulas

genius…..genii and geniuses

genus…..genera

gymnasium…..gymnasia and gymnasiums

hippopotamus…..hippopotami

hypothesis…..hypotheses

larva…..larvæ

memorandum…..memoranda and memorandums

nebula…..nebulæ

oasis…..oases

parenthesis…..parentheses

phenomenon…..phenomena

radius…..radii

seraph…..seraphim and seraphs

species…..species

stratum…..strata

synopsis…..synopses

tableau…..tableaux

tempo…..tempi

terminus…..termini

thesis…..theses

trousseau…..trousseaux

vertebra…..vertebræ

The two plurals sometimes differ in meaning as

• Michael Angelo and Raphael were geniuses.

• Spirits are sometimes called genii.

• This book has two indices.

• The printer uses signs called indexes.



17. When a proper name with the title Mr., Mrs., Miss or Master is put into the plural, the rules are as follows.

Examples :

1. The plural of Mr. is Messrs. (pronounced Messers). The name remains in the singular. Thus….

Mr. Jackson….plural Messrs. (or the Messrs.) Jackson

2. Mrs. has no plural. The name itself takes the plural form. Thus….

Mrs. Jackson….plural the Mrs. Jacksons

3. In the case of Miss, sometimes the title is put into the plural, sometimes the name. Thus….

Miss Jackson….plural the Misses Jackson or the Miss Jacksons

The latter expression is somewhat informal. Accordingly, it would not be used in a formal invitation or reply or in addressing a letter.

4. The plural of Master is Masters. The name remains in the singular. Thus….

Master Jackson….plural the Masters Jackson.

Other titles usually remain in the singular, the name taking the plural form as the two General Follansbys. But when two or more names follow, the title becomes plural as Generals Rolfe and Johnson.

Some nouns, on account of their meaning, are seldom or never used in the plural.

Such are many names of qualities (as cheerfulness, mirth), of sciences (as chemistry), of forces (as gravitation).



18. Many nouns, commonly used in the singular only, may take a plural in some special sense. Thus….

Examples :

earth (the globe)…..earths (kinds of soil)

ice (frozen water) …..ices (food)

tin (a metal) …..tins (tin dishes or cans)

nickel (a metal) …..nickels (coins)

Some nouns are used in the plural only.

Such are: annals, athletics, billiards, dregs, eaves, entrails, lees, nuptials, oats, obsequies, pincers, proceeds, riches, scissors, shears, suds, tweezers, tongs, trousers, victuals, vitals; and (in certain special senses) ashes, goods, links, scales, spectacles, stocks.



19. A few nouns are plural in form, but singular in meaning.

Examples :

gallows, news, measles, mumps, small pox (for small pocks), politics and some names of sciences (as, civics, economics, ethics, mathematics, physics, optics).

Note : These nouns were formerly plural in sense as well as in form. News, for example, originally meant “new things." Shakespeare uses it both as a singular and as a plural. Thus….“This news was brought to Richard" (King John, v. 3. 12) and “But wherefore do I tell these news to thee?" (1 Henry IV, iii. 2. 121). In a few words modern usage varies. The following nouns are sometimes singular, sometimes plural….alms, amends, bellows, means, pains (in the sense of “effort"), tidings.


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