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Plural and Possessive Nouns Help

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Updated on Sep 8, 2011

Plurals

You can make most, but not all, nouns plural by simply adding -s or -es to the end of the word, like printer/ printers, lunch/lunches, bill/bills, kiss/kisses, and mall/malls. However, the English language can be tricky. Some nouns change completely as plurals, and others do not change at all. But never fear, there are some rules to help you know how to make a singular noun plural. Read on!

Making Singular Nouns Plural

  1. Add -s to the end of most words to make them plural.
      grill/grills, paper/papers, snake/snakes, razor/razors
  2. The plural form of nouns like these, referred to as count nouns, is rather predictable.

  3. Add -es to the end of words ending with -ch, -s, -sh, -ss, -x, and -z.
      punch/punches, gas/gases, garlic press/garlic presses, brush/brushes, box/boxes, fez/fezes
  4. It would be strange to try and pronounce dresss or crashs if we didn't put an e in front of the s, which forms another syllable.

  5. Change -f, -lf, or -fe at the end of words to -ves.
      leaf/leaves, half/halves, knife/knives
  6. Be careful; there are exceptions to this rule, for example, chief/chiefs, giraffe/giraffes.

  7. Change -y to -ies when the -y follows a consonant.
      party/parties, battery/batteries, penny/pennies, baby/babies
  8. Just add an -s after a -y when the -y is preceded by a vowel.
      guy/guys, day/days, play/plays, key/keys, boy/boys
  9. Add -es to words ending with an -o that follows a consonant.
      tornado/tornadoes, potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, hero/heroes
  10. Simply add -s to words ending with an -o that follows another vowel.
      patio/patios, video/videos, radio/radios
  11. Be careful; there are exceptions to this rule. For example, banjo/banjos, piano/pianos.

  12. For hyphenated compound nouns, add an -s to the word that is changing in number.
      passer-by/passers-by, brother-in-law/brothers-in-law
  13. There are no rules for pluralizing irregular nouns; you must memorize them.
      mouse/mice, deer/deer, child/children, man/men, foot/feet, person/people, stimulus/stimuli, tooth/teeth, octopus/octopi, die/dice, louse/lice, ox/oxen

Tip: Dictionaries often list two plurals for a word, as with the word cactus: plural, cacti or cactuses. Either is acceptable, but generally, the first one given is preferred.

Possessives

Possessive nouns are words that imply ownership— something belonging to something else. The first thing to do is determine whether the word being used actually implies possession.

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