Los Angeles   |   Boston   |   Santa Barbara
ELC Logo White
Los Angeles   |   Boston   |   Santa Barbara
ELC Logo White
  • My ELCMy ELC Page Icon
  • Agent's Page Icon iconAgents


ELC Boston ELC Los Angeles ELC Santa Barbara
ELC - English Language Center Santa Barbara
English Grammar Lesson – The “Simple” Rules for Pluralization November 9th, 2018

We are all pretty familiar with the simple rules of making a noun plural because we use nouns so frequently in writing and everyday speech. Let’s go through the rules again:

  1. If it’s a regular singular noun, you simply add an {-s} to the end — such as cat > cats
  2. If the noun ends in {-s}, {-ss}, {-sh}, {-ch}, {-x}, or {-z}, then you add an {-es} to the end instead — such as bus > buses or lunch > lunches
  3. For some words ending with a {-s} or {-z}, you would have to double that same letter before adding the {-es}
  4. Nouns ending in {-f} or {-fe} change to {-ves} to indicate a plural — such as wife > wives or shelf > shelves — but there are, of course, exceptions to this rule, such as belief > beliefs
  5. A singular noun that ends in {consonant + y} becomes {-ies} — such as city > cities
  6. But what if that noun ends in {vowel + y}? Just add an {-s} — such as boy > boys
  7. Finally, words ending in {-o} take on an extra {-es} — such as potato > potatoes. Not always, though, because you also have piano > pianos

These are the most basic and common rules, but we all know English isn’t as “simple” as it seems, don’t we? Here are a few rules that might be causing you problems as your vocabulary grows:

  1. Nouns ending in {-us} commonly change into an {-i} — such as cactus > cacti
  2. A singular noun with an {-is} would turn into an {-es} — such as analysis > analyses
  3. Words ending in {-on} shorten to just an {-a} — such as criterion > criteria
  4. Some words don’t change at all, like sheep > sheep or deer > deer
  5. Then the only thing you have to remember next are the irregular nouns that are in a class of their own! These follow no rules and just have to be memorized:
    • child > children
    • goose > geese
    • woman > women or man > men
    • person > people
    • foot > feet

And there you have it! The above examples cover most of situations you’ll run into when turning a singular noun into a plural noun, but don’t forget: there are always exceptions to the rule.

Stay tuned because next month we will talk about some very fancy and unusual plural forms!

Mmm, strawberries!