Singular and Plural Nouns

Anything that is just one in quantity is singular. But what if there is more than one? Nouns that are two or more are called plurals! Simple, yes? Let's see!

"Singular and Plural Nouns" in English Grammar

What Do we Mean by Singular and Plural Nouns?

Nouns can be categorized into two groups based on whether they refer to a single entity or multiple entities:

  1. Singular nouns
  2. Plural nouns

Singular Nouns

Singular nouns are nouns that refer to one person, place, thing, or idea. They are used to talk about individual items rather than groups or collections. Examples of singular nouns include "book", "dog", "sun", "city", and "idea".
In English, singular nouns can be modified by articles like "a" or "an", depending on their initial letter.
Furthermore, singular nouns take singular verb forms. Pay attention to some examples:

I love reading a good book before bed.

'Book' is a singular nouns and it is modified by the article 'a'.

The tree in my backyard is starting to bloom.

'Tree' is a singular noun and it takes a singular verb form

Plural Nouns

Plural nouns are used when referring to more than one entity of something in English, and there are rules for pluralizing nouns. The most basic rule is to add "s" to the end of a singular noun. However, there are both regular and irregular plural nouns.

Plural Noun Rules for Regular Nouns

In English, making a noun plural usually involves adding "-s" or "-es" to the end of the word.

  • Regular nouns can be made plural by adding "-s" to the end of the word.

bird → birds

  • For singular nouns that end in "-s," "-ss," "-sh," "-ch," "-x," or "-z," add "-es" to the end of the word to make it plural.

bus → buses

  • For singular nouns that end in "-f" or "-fe," change the "-f" to "-v" and add "-es" to the end of the word to make it plural.

knife → knives

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 → babies

  • 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 → boys

  • If the singular noun ends in ‑o, add ‑es to make it plural.

tomato → tomatoes

  • Not all nouns that end in -o take -es at the end to become plural nouns.

radio → radios

  • For singular nouns ending in "-s" or "-z," double the last letter before adding "-es" to make it plural.

gas → gasses

Plural Noun Rules for Irregular Nouns

English has borrowed many words from other languages, such as Latin, Roman, and Germanic languages, and the pluralization rules for these words are often different from those in modern English. Therefore, it's important to learn the plural forms of such words separately.

  • If the singular noun ends in ‑us, the plural ending is frequently ‑i.

cactus → cacti

You can also say 'cactuses' in modern English language.

  • If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es.

analysis → analyses

  • If the singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural ending is ‑a.

phenomenon → phenomena

Plural Noun: Shapeshifters

There are some nouns that do not follow any specific pluralization rules, and the only way to learn their plural forms is to memorize them or look them up in a dictionary.

child → children

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

Fish Is Both a Singular and Plural Noun

There are some plurals that can be confusing because they have the same form as their singular counterparts.

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'. 'Sheep', however is not a collective noun; when speaking of more than one sheep, it is simply plural.

There is one deer at the park. → (There are five deer at the park.)

Nouns That Only Have Plural Forms

Certain nouns only exist in their plural form and do not have a singular form (i.e., they always end in "-s" or "-es"). One type of such nouns are those that come in pairs or consist of two parts. Here are some examples:

  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Tweezers
  • Trousers
  • Headphones
  • Shoes
  • Jeans
  • Slippers
  • Glasses

Tip!

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 feet.

This pair of headphones is amazing.

There are some other nouns that are not a pair but are always in plural form:

  • Savings
  • Stairs
  • Thanks
  • Greetings
  • Goods

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 skipped economics today, it's so borig.

Subjects

Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus

Diseases

The breaking news about the earthquake in Japan was shocking

Collective Words

Collective nouns are words that refer to a group of people, animals, or things. Depending on whether the collective noun is considered singular or plural, it can take either a singular or plural verb. Some of the common collective nouns include the following:

  • Audience
  • Crew
  • Herd
  • Team
  • Government
  • Pack

The audience are each screaming their favorite player's name.

when the members of the group act as individuals.

The audience is in shock.

when the members of the group are acting together as a unit.

The family are each going out of their way to prove each other wrong.

The family is going on holiday.

Verb Agreements

When using singular nouns, it is important to use singular verbs. Using plural verbs with singular nouns, or vice versa, would be grammatically incorrect.

Students play football in the yard. (Not 'Students plays football in the yard.')

The apple is in the bowl. (Not 'The apple are in the bowl.')

Definite article 'the'

The definite article (the) can be used before both singular and plural nouns.

Demonstrative Determiners Agreement

It is important to use singular demonstrative determiners with singular nouns. Using plural demonstratives with singular nouns, or vice versa, would be considered incorrect.

Those books were put on the shelves. (Not 'That books were put on the shelves.')

This small dog was barking all night. (Not 'These small dog was barking all night.')

Possessive Determiners

English learners can sometimes become confused by the use of possessive determiners with nouns, unsure of whether to use singular or plural nouns. However, it is important to note that possessive determiners do not always agree with the nouns they are modifying. It is grammatically acceptable to use plural nouns with singular possessive determiners, or vice versa.

My friends are all nice people.

Their mother is a kind woman.

Review

Based on the number of the nouns we have two kinds of nouns.

Singular Nouns

Singular nouns refer to only one person, thing, place, animal, etc.

Plural Nouns

Plural nouns refer to two or more people, things, places, animals, etc.

regular irregular unchanged
Plural nouns simply add s / If the word ends in( x, ch, sh, ss, z )add es the whole word changes / eg., foot → feet fish → fish
article (a) article (an)
Singular nouns nouns starting with a consonant sound nouns starting with a vowel (a.e.i.o.u) sound

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