Basic English Grammar

Rules to Make Plurals from Singulars

Written by Ilmgaah

English Grammar Rules to Make Plurals from Singulars

Understanding the rules for converting singular to plural is a fundamental aspect of learning English language. The precision and clarity of our communication depends on the appropriate use of these rules. In this article you are going to learn some fundamental rules on how to make plurals from singulars.

Rules to Make Plurals from Singulars

Most of the nouns take only an “s” to make their plurals.

Pen -> Pens
Tin -> Tins
Cap -> Caps
Shop -> Shops
Cat -> Cats
Dog -> Dogs
Cow -> Cows

Most of the nouns, which end with an “e”, take only “s” to make their plurals.

College -> Colleges
Orange -> Oranges
Shoe -> Shoes
Toe -> Toes
Eagle -> Eagles

The nouns, which end with “ch, sh, z, x, s, ss”, take “es” to make their plurals.

Watch -> Watches
Dish -> Dishes
Buzz -> Buzzes
Box -> Boxes
Bus -> Buses
Address -> Addresses

Note : Sometimes “z” is doubled.

Quiz -> Quizzes

If a singular noun ends with “y” preceded by a consonant, in plural, “y” changes into “ies”.

Story -> Stories
Sky -> Skies
Try -> Tries
Berry -> Berries
Fary -> Faries
Company -> Companies

Proper nouns, which end with “y” preceded by a consonant, take only an “s” to make their plural.

Germany -> Germanys
Merry -> Merrys

If “y” is preceded by a vowel, “y” does not change, only an “s” is added.

Boy -> Boys
Toy -> Toys
Nay -> Nays
May -> Mays
X-ray -> X-rays
Monkey -> Monkeys

To make plurals of abbreviations, you can use only an “s” or apostrophe and an “s” ->(‘s).

Ph.D -> Ph Ds or Ph D’s
M.P.A -> MPAs or MPA’s
MNA -> MNAs or MNA’s
VIP -> VIPs or VIP’s

To write the decades, you can also use only an “s” or apostrophe and an “s” (‘s).

1990s or 1990’s
1890s or 1890’s

For plural of letters, add an apostrophe and an “s” -> (‘s) or only an “s” in them.

P -> Ps or p’s
O -> Os or o’s
A -> As or a’s
S -> Ss or s’s
M -> Ms or m’s

For plural of words, add an apostrophe and an “s” (->’s) in them.

But -> But’s
And -> And’s
Do -> Do’s
Don’t -> Don’t’s
If -> If’s

If a singular noun ends with an “f” or “fe”, to make it plural “fe” or “f” usually changes into “ves”.

Knife -> Knives
Life -> Lives
Calf -> Calves
Leaf -> Leaves
Half -> Halves
Self -> Selves
Shelf -> Shelves
Thief -> Thieves
Wife -> Wives
Wolf -> Wolves
Hoof -> Hooves
Loaf -> Loaves

Exceptional Case:

Safe -> Safes
Roof -> Roofs
Proof -> Proofs
Believe -> Believes
Chief -> Chiefs
Cliff -> Cliffs
Handkerchief -> Handkerchiefs

Note : When “dozen, hundred, thousand, lakh etc.” Are followed by a plural noun and preceded by a specified number, they are used in singular form.

Three dozen bananas.
Four hundred chickens.
Five Thousands oranges.
Two lakh children.

When “dozen, hundred, thousand, lakh etc.” Are not preceded by a specified number and followed by “of” and the plural noun, they are used in plural form.

Thousands of workers were protesting.
Dozens of protesters were arrested.
Hundreds of police men were injured.
Lakhs of people were watching the protesters.

Irregular plurals

Child -> Children
Man -> Men
Woman -> Women
Foot -> Feet
Mouse -> Mice
Goose -> Geese
Tooth -> Teeth
Brother -> Brethren
Ox -> Oxen

If you talk about the kinds of the above nouns, then, they are used in plural form.

This barbar has different kinds of hairs in show case.
There were different kinds of fishes in his glass house.

Some nouns which end in “o” take “es” to form their plurals.

Tomato -> Tomatoes
Potato -> Potatoes
Hero -> Heroes
Echo -> Echoes
Mosquito -> Mosquitoes
No -> Noes
Negro -> Negros
Motto -> Mottoes

Some nouns which end in “o” take only “s” to make their plurals.

Radio -> Radios
Piano -> Pianos
Studio -> Studios
Photo -> Photos
Auto -> Autos
Disco -> Discos
Video -> Video
Kilo -> Kilos
Portfolio -> Portfolios
Stereo -> Stereos
Tobacco -> Tobaccos
Banjo -> Banjos

Note -> Some nouns which end in “o” take both “s” or “es” to make their plurals.

Cargo -> Cargoes/Cargos
Tornado -> Tornadoes/Tornados
Zero -> Zeros/Zeroes
Buffalo -> Buffalos/Buffaloes
Commando -> Commandos/Commandoes

Note : Add only “s” with double “Os”.

Cuckoo -> Cuckoos
Bamboo -> Bamboos
Zoo -> Zoos
Kangaroo -> Kangaroos
Tattoo -> Tattoos
Shampoo -> Shampoos

To make plurals of compound nouns, add “s” at the end of the compound nouns.

Teapot -> Teapots
Teaspoon -> Teaspoons
Farmhouse -> Farmhouses
Caretaker -> Caretakers
Snowball -> Snowballs
Birthday -> Birthdays

To make the plurals of hyphenated compound nouns, add “s” at the end of the name of the person or thing.

Sisters in-law -> Sisters-in-law
Son-in-law -> Sons-in-law
Father-in-law -> Fathers-in-law
Mother-in-law -> Mothers-in-law
Passer-by -> Passers-by

The nouns which end in “is” form their plurals by changing “is” into “es”.

Parenthesis -> Parentheses
Thesis -> Theses
Analysis -> Analyses
Basis -> Bases
Crisis -> Crises
Emphasis -> Emphases

If the preceding number is singular, use ” pair of” and if the preceding number is plural, use “pairs of”.

A pair of shoes.
Two pairs of shoes.
One pair of scissors.
Two pair of scissors.

Some nouns have plural forms only, no singular form at all.

Trousers
Scissors
Spectacles
Credentials
Athletics

Some nouns have got only one form both for singular and plural.

Sheep -> Sheep
Hair -> Hair
Fish -> Fish
Species -> Species
Series -> Series
Chassis -> Chassis
Innings -> Innings
Trout -> Trout

If you discuss different kinds of fish or hair, then, they are used in plural form.

This barber has different kinds of hairs in show case.
There were different kinds of fishes in his glass house.

Mathematics/Maths : Singular and plural both verbs are possible but singular verb is more common in British English; in American English, singular verb is used.

My mathematics/maths is/are good. (British English)
My math is good. (American English)

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