What is a Plural Noun?

A meaning of a plural noun is simple. It suggests that there is more than one person, place, thing, animal, or idea. Anytime you refer to more than one thing, you are using a plural noun. A plural noun usually has an -s, -es, or -ies at the end of the word. As with other things, there are a few exceptions to this rule. One of the few words that stays the same in the English language no matter how many there are, is the moose. There is one moose, or there are many moose.

Singular and Plural Nouns

Singular and plural nouns are easy enough to tell apart. When you are referring to only one person, place, thing, animal, or idea, it is a singular noun. When you refer to more than one, it is a plural noun.

Singular Noun Examples

Here are a few examples of sentences with singular nouns:

  • The dog wagged its tail.
  • My daughter wants a hamburger.
  • That is a huge cliff!
  • The flamingo lifted its leg.
  • The horse jumped over the fence.
  • I want to go shopping for a new kitchen appliance.
  • The wolf howled at the moon.

Plural Noun Examples

Here are a few examples of sentences with plural nouns:

  • The dogs wagged their tails.
  • Our daughters want hamburgers and french fries.
  • There are some huge cliffs in the western United States!
  • The flamingos lifted their legs.
  • The horses jumped over several fences.
  • We want to go shopping for new kitchen appliances.
  • The wolves howled at the moon.

Plural Nouns: Rules and Examples

The most common rule for singular nouns is that they are made plural by simply adding an -s at the end of the word. However, there are a lot of different rules about making a word plural depending on what letter it ends with. Be aware that irregular nouns do not follow plural noun rules. You will need to memorize these rules or look them up in a dictionary when you are in doubt.

Plural Noun Rules

Because we use nouns so frequently when we write or speak, there are many plural noun rules. It is important for you to know all of them. To be able to correctly spell plurals, you will need to be aware of what letter the singular noun ends in.

Add an -s to the end of regular nouns to make them plural.

rabbit — rabbits

school — schools

Add -es to a singular noun that ends in ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z to make it plural.

loss — losses

octopus — octopuses

max — maxes

push — pushes

perch — perches

buzz — buzzes

Sometimes, when words end in -s or -z, you will need to make them plural by doubling the -s or-z before you add -es.

quiz – quizzes

Jones –Joneses

To form a plural noun to a noun ends with ‑f or ‑fe, you will usually need to change the -f to -ve before adding the -s.

leaf – leaves

shelf – shelves

Exceptions:

cliff – cliffs

scarf – scarfs

barf – barfs

sniff – sniffs

You will need to change the ending to words that end in -y and have a consonant before the letter -y to -ies to make it plural.

property – properties

berry – berries

However, you will need to add only an -s to words that end in -y and have a vowel before the -y.

birthday – birthdays

bogey – bogeys

Add -es to the end of singular nouns that end in -o to make it plural.

hero – heroes

mosquito – mosquitoes

Exceptions:

burrito – burritos

taco – tacos

lasso – lassos

There are very few words that are an exception to both of these rules. With a word like volcano, you can pluralize the word with -s or -es. Both are correct.

volcano

volcanoes

volcanos

For words that end in -us, the plural ending is usually -i.

fungus – fungi

locus – loci

When a singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural noun ending is ‑es.

diagnosis – diagnoses

oasis – oases

When a singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural noun ending is ‑a.

phenomenon – phenomena

criterion – criteria

There are a few nouns that are the same word as both singular and plural.

moose – moose

fish – fish

shrimp – shrimp

offspring – offspring

You will need to see these nouns in a sentence to be able to tell if they are singular or plural.

For example:

The moose gave birth to five offspring. Notice how the spelling to both moose and offspring remain the same no matter how many you are talking about.

Plural Noun Rules for Irregular Nouns

There are no specific rules for irregular nouns. You will need to either memorize them or look them up in a dictionary.

child – children

person – people

man – men

woman – women

tooth – teeth

foot – feet

mouse – mice

goose – geese

louse — lice

IRREGULAR VERB/NOUN AGREEMENT

Some nouns may look like a plural word, but they are singular.

Plural nouns used with a singular verb Sentence
news Most people watch the news on the internet rather than on television now.
athletics If you play athletics, you will get a scholarship.
linguistics Linguistics is the study of human language.
darts Do you want to shoot some darts tonight?
billiards I love playing billiards.

There are some nouns that have a fixed plural form and take a plural verb. They either have a different meaning in the singular, or they are not used in the singular form at all. Examples of this type of noun include:  savings, trousers, jeans, glasses, spectacles, thanks, steps, stairs, customs, congratulations, tropics, wages, outskirts, goods, and wits.

Plural noun with plural verb Sentence
thanks We gave thanks on Thanksgiving Day.
stairs This building has too many stairs!
congratulations We offered our congratulations when he graduated.

 

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