Regular Plurals Study Guide (page 2)
Many words have regular plurals: you only have to add -s or -es to make them plural. This lesson will outline the rules for regular plurals.
WHEN WE TALK about plurals, we are referring to nouns that show more than one thing. A plural can mean two dogs (the plural of dog) or 1,000 dogs. The key is that the plural form indicates more than one dog. When you write about more than one of something, you need to use the plural form of the word.
There are two types of plurals in the English language: regular plurals and irregular plurals. Regular plurals are words that require only the addition of -s or -es at the end to make them plural. The rules for regular plurals are very straightforward. Irregular plurals, on the other hand, follow more complicated rules. Here, we'll review the rules for regular plurals which, fortunately, make up the majority of all plurals.
Most words only require you to add -s to the end. In fact, you can simply add -s to all words except for those that require -es and those that are irregular.
Words That End In -s, -x, -z, -ch, -sh
Add -es to words that end in -s, -x, -z, -ch, or -sh. The reason -es is added to words ending in these letters or letter combinations is that it makes them easier to pronounce. You'll notice that all the letters and letter combinations have similar, hissing-type sounds. If you were to simply add an -s at the end of these words, the sound of it would be lost. For example, it would be difficult to hear an -s at the end of the word wax. When -es is added, however, it becomes noticeable. The same is true for words that end in -ch or -sh. The potentially awkward pronunciation is corrected by adding an -es to those words. Here are a few examples.
- tax + es = taxes
- watch + es = watches
- guess + es = guesses
- mash + es = mashes
Words That End In -o
There are two rules for words that end in -o, and—as usual—some exceptions. First, if the ending is a vowel followed by an o, simply add -s. Thus cameo, duo, and rodeo become cameos, duos, and rodeos. Second, if the word ends in a consonant followed by an o, add -es. Thus, tornado, torpedo, and potato become tornadoes, torpedoes, and potatoes.
There are a few exceptions to the rule for making plural forms of words that end in -o. The following words end in a consonant followed by an o but take only an -s:
Words that End In -y
Words that end in -y are covered in greater detail in Lesson 22. Briefly, these words are made plural by adding -s when the word ends in a vowel + y, and changing the y to an i and adding -es when the word ends in a consonant + y.
- tray + s = trays
- day + s = days
- penny + es = pennies
- candy + es = candies
Words That End In -f Or -fe
Most words that end in -f or -fe require a letter change. Change the f or fe to v and then add -es. For example:
- knife + es = knives
- life + es = lives
- elf + es = elves
- wife + es = wives
There are a few exceptions to this rule that you will need to look out for. The exceptions include words that end in a double f, such as sheriff, cuff, and plaintiff. For these words, you only need to add an -s to the end to make them plural: sheriffs, cuffs, and plaintiffs. Other exceptions that you will need to memorize include belief, chef, chief, gulf, roof, and safe. All of those words retain their f and only require an -s to be added to the end: beliefs, chefs, chiefs, gulfs, roofs, and safes.
TIP: Hyphenated words are easier to pluralize than you might think. To make a hyphenated word plural, just add an -s to the word that is being pluralized. For example, if you are referring to more than one sister-in-law, you would write sisters-in-law, not sister-in-laws. Other examples include:
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
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