Singular and Plural Nouns in English Grammar
Anything that is just one in quantity is singular. But what if there are more than one? Nouns that are two or more are called plurals! Simple, yes? Let's see!
Singular and Plural Nouns
A noun identifies a person, place, thing, idea etc. Based on the number of these categories, a noun can be singular or plural. Singular means 'one' and plural means 'more than one'. Thus, a singular noun names one person, place, thing, or idea, while a plural noun names more than one person, place, thing, or idea.
When you talk about more than one of anything, you’re using plural nouns. Pluralizing a noun in English have rules. The basic rule is by adding 's' to the end of a singular nouns. We have regular plural nouns and irregular plural nouns.
Plural Noun Rules for Regular Nouns
Typically, to make a noun plural in English, you just need to add -s or -es to the end of the words.
- Add ‑s to the end of regular nouns
Bird is a regular noun.
- Add ‑es to the end the singular noun that have ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, at the end.
Bus is a regular noun.
- With some nouns ending in ‑f or ‑fe, change -f to ‑ve before adding the -s.
These are regular nouns too, but these kinds of nouns has a change in their dictations.
- If a singular noun ends in ‑y and the letter before the -y is a consonant, change the ending to ‑ies to make the noun plural.
- If the singular noun ends in -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, simply add an -s to make it plural.
Vowel + Y
- If the singular noun ends in ‑o, add ‑es to make it plural.
- Not all nouns that end in -o take -es at the end to become plural nouns.
You may have seen photos as well.
- With singular nouns ending in -s or -z, you need to double the -s or -z prior to add the -es for pluralization.
Plural Noun Rules for Irregular Nouns
English language has borrowed many words from other languages, like Latin or Roman or Germanic languages. The pluralization rule for these words are naturally different from modern English. So you have to learn them separately.
- If the singular noun ends in ‑us, the plural ending is frequently ‑i.
You can also say 'cactuses' in modern English.
- If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es.
- If the singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural ending is ‑a.
Plural Noun: Shapeshifters
Some nouns don't follow any specific rules, and the only way to learn their plural forms is by memorizing them or looking up their proper pluralization in the dictionary.
child → children
'child' is an irregular noun.
man → men
woman → women
person → people
Remember that 'people' is countable and we should say 'people are...' not 'people is...'
tooth → teeth
foot → feet
mouse → mice
The best way to learn them is to check your dictionaries and memorize them.
Plural Noun: Unchanged
There are some confusing plurals that have the same form when they are singular or plural.
There is one fish . There are ten fish .
The word 'fishes' is also used here, but it's not very common.
There is one sheep . There are ten sheep .
The plural of 'sheep' is always 'sheep'. No change. 'Sheep', however is not a collective noun; when speaking of more than one sheep, it is simply a plural.
There is one deer at the park . There are five deer at the park .
The same rule is applied here.
Nouns That Only Have Plural Forms
Some nouns only have a plural form and you cannot see them in singular form (i.e. without -s or -es). one kind of these nouns are those that come in pairs or two parts. See the examples:
pants / shorts / tights / trousers / pajamas / jeans / shoes / slippers / glasses
In normal life one does not wear only one shoe.
If you want to say you have one of these things, you may use the phrase 'a pair of', 'a set of' etc.
I have a new pair of shoes .
It means there are enough shoes for both two feet.