What Do we Mean by Singular and Plural Nouns?
Based on whether a noun is referring to only one or more entities, they are categorized into two groups.
- Singular nouns
- Plural nouns
When you talk about more than one in the number of something, you are using plural nouns. Pluralizing a noun in English has rules. The basic rule is by adding 's' to the end of a singular noun. 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 → bird
- Add ‑es to the end the singular noun that have ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, at the end.
bus → bus
- With some nouns ending in ‑f or ‑fe, change -f to ‑ve before adding the -s.
knife → kniv
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.
baby → bab
- If the singular noun ends in -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, simply add an -s to make it plural.
boy → boy
- If the singular noun ends in ‑o, add ‑es to make it plural.
tomato → tomato
- Not all nouns that end in -o take -es at the end to become plural nouns.
radio → radio
- With singular nouns ending in -s or -z, you need to double the -s or -z prior to add the -es for pluralization.
gas → gass
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.
cactus → cact
You can also say 'cactuses' in modern English language.
- If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es.
analysis → analys
- If the singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural ending is ‑a.
phenomenon → phenomen
Plural Noun: Shapeshifters
Some nouns do not follow any specific rules, and the only way to learn their plural forms is by memorizing them or looking up the words in the dictionary.
Remember that 'people' is countable and we should say 'people are...' not 'people is...'
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
The word 'fishes' is also used here, but it's not very common.
There is one
The plural of 'sheep' is always 'sheep'. 'Sheep', however is not a collective noun; when speaking of more than one sheep, it is simply plural.
There is one
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:
If you want to say you have one of these things, you may use the phrase 'a pair of', 'a set of' etc.
It means there are enough shoes for both feet.
These pair of headphones are amazing.
There are some other nouns that are not a pair but are always in plural form:
Plural Nouns used Only in Singular Form
There are nouns that even though they look like a plural nouns but are treated as singular, these include:
- Academic subjects and classes like: Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Aerobics
- Diseases like: Measles, Mumps
- The word: News
I have a great
There are some words referring to a group of people, things, and animals, these are called collective nouns. some collective nouns can take singular or plural verbs depending on whether they are considered singular or plural. Let's see some collective nouns:
when the members of the group act as an individuals.
when the members of the group are acting together as a unit.
With singular nouns, we need singular verbs. If we use singular nouns with plural verbs or vice versa, it would not be correct.
football in the yard.')
in the bowl.')
Demonstrative Determiners Agreement
We use singular demonstrative determiners with singular nouns. Using plural demonstratives with singular nouns or vice versa would not be considered correct
books were put on the shelves.')
small dog was barking all night.')
Sometimes English learners get confused by the number of possessive determiners when used with nouns. They wonder whether to use singular or plural nouns. Remember, Possessive determiners may not agree with the nouns. You can use plural nouns with singular possessive determiners or vice versa.
Based on the number of the nouns we have two kinds of nouns.
Singular nouns refer to only one person, thing, place, animal, etc.
Plural nouns refer to two or more people, things, places, animals, etc.
||the whole word changes / eg., foot → feet||fish → fish|
|article (a)||article (an)|
nouns starting with a
nouns starting with a
We can use the article (the) before both plural or singular definite nouns.
- What Do we Mean by Singular and Plural Nouns?
- Plural Nouns used Only in Singular Form
- Collective Words
- Verb Agreements
- Demonstrative Determiners Agreement
- Possessive Determiners