Easy Learning

Number in nouns - Easy Learning Grammar

Singular number is used when the noun refers to one item. Plural number is used when the noun refers to more than one item.Countable nouns have both singular and plural forms.Uncountable nouns and mass nouns do not normally have a plural form. See Types of noun for more on the types of noun.The regular plural ending of an English noun is -s.
catcats
These are the exceptions to the normal pattern:
singular noun endingplural noun ending
-s, -ss, -ch, -x, -zz-es
focusfocuses
princessprincesses
churchchurches
boxboxes
buzzbuzzes
-o-s or -es
heroheroes
pianopianos
potatopotatoes
consonant + y-ies
babybabies
hobbyhobbies
vowel + y-s
keykeys
rayrays
-f -s or -ves
hoofhoofs or hooves
dwarfdwarfs or dwarves
thiefthieves
roofroofs
-fe-ves
knifeknives
lifelives

Irregular plurals

Some nouns have two plural forms.
fishfish or fishes
Some of them have the same form in the singular and plural.
a sheepten sheep
a deerseven deer
A few change a vowel to form the plural.
manmen
womanwomen
footfeet
mousemice
Some nouns form the plural with -en.
childchildren
oxoxen
Since it is not possible to give more than a selection of the irregular forms, you should check in a dictionary if you are in doubt. If the dictionary does not show the plural form, then you can assume that it is regular.Compound nouns normally form the plural by adding -s to the last word of the compound.
a games consolethree games consoles
a bookcasetwo bookcases
an Indian take-awaytwo Indian take-aways
There are a few exceptions:A compound noun formed from a noun and an adverb makes the first word plural.
a passer-byseveral passers-by
Compound nouns with woman as the first word make both words plural.
a woman doctorseveral women doctors
a woman drivermost women drivers
A compound word which ends in -ful normally adds -s after -ful, but there is an alternative form with the -s following the base noun.
a cupfulthree cupfuls/cupsful
a spoonfultwo spoonfuls/spoonsful

Plural nouns with singular reference

Some nouns referring to clothes and tools where two equal parts are joined together, e.g. trousers, binoculars, and tongs, are treated as being plural and are followed by a verb in the plural.
  • My shorts are dirty.
  • The scissors are on the table.
To talk about one of these items we can use the expression a pair of…
  • John bought a pair of jeans.
To talk about more than one we talk about however many pairs of…
  • Martina bought five pairs of tights.
  • When they are used as ordinary numbers, words such as dozen and million have no plural form.
    nine million starstwo dozen glasses
    When they are used to mean a large number, they do have a plural form, which can be used as a partitive.
  • There are millions of pebbles on the beach.
  • I saw dozens of children in the playground.

Foreign plurals

Nouns that have come into English from foreign languages can:
  • keep the plural form of the language they come from.
an axistwo axes
a crisistwo crises
  • have plurals formed according to the rules for plural in English.
a thesaurusseveral thesauruses
 (instead of thesauri)
  • have two plurals: one from the foreign language and the other formed according to the rules for plural formation in English. The foreign plural is usually kept for scientific or specialized use.
an indexsome indexes/indices
a formulasome formulas/formulae

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