The Plural form in English
The principles of forming plurals. Plural nouns and pronouns. Phonetic and grammar requirements and rules.
The category of number in the English language is typical only for nouns and pronouns.
The plural form of English nouns
Countable nouns in English could have both singular and plural forms.
1. The basic method of forming the plural form of a noun is by adding the -s (es) ending to the singular base form. This ending is pronounced in a different way.
It sounds like:
[s] after voiceless consonants – cliffs, hats, shirts
[z] after voiced consonants – bees, doves
or [iz] if a word ends with the following letters or letter combinations –
–s,-ss,-tch,-ch,-sh,-z or -x
In this case the “-es” ending is added: match – matches, brush – brushes
Also, the plural ending is pronounced like [iz] when a word ends with the unvoiced (silent) “-e” letter, i.e. a letter which is not pronounced: nose – noses, horse – horses.
2. If a singular noun ends in “-y”, in the plural form the “-y” is replaced with “-i”: cry – cries, sky – skies.
Exception #1: proper nouns – Mandy – Mandys. (“-s” ending)
Exception #2: When the letter “-y” follows a vowel letter – donkey – donkeys (“-s” ending)
3. If a word ends with the “-o” letter which follows a consonant letter, the “-es” ending is added – torpedo – torpedoes
Exception: if the letter “-o” follows a vowel, the “-s” ending is added – portfolio – portfolios
4. The plural form for some nouns ending in “-f” is changed with “-v” (wife – wives, wolf – wolves, knife – knives). However, there are words that could have the plural form both with “-f” and “-v” letters (scarf – scarfs, scarves, wharf – wharfs, wharves).
5. Some nouns in English have their plural form by changing the root vowel:
Man – men
Woman – women
Foot – feet
Tooth – teeth
Goose – geese
Mouse – mice
Louse – lice
6. Only two nouns form the plural by adding the “-en” ending (ox – oxen, child – children)
7. The singular and plural forms for certain nouns is exactly the same (deer, sheep, swine, fish).
8. The adopted words having their roots in Greek or Latin keep the plural form specific to that particular language (phenomenon – phenomena)
9. The formation of plural form for compound words is a little different. In general, the “-s” ending is added to the main word. (Editor-in-chief – editors-in-chief, brother-in-law – brothers-in-law). In case the noun part in a compound word is absent the “-s” ending adds to the very end of the word (forget-me-not, forget-me-nots).
The plural form of English pronouns
The pronoun is the second part of speech in English which is characterized by the category of number. There are:
- personal pronouns (I, he, she – we, they)
- reflexive pronouns (himself – themselves)
- possessive pronouns (his, her – our)