Countable and Uncountable Nouns - Part 2: Irregular Forms of Countable Nouns

grammar Jun 23, 2021

Plural Nouns In English

In Part 1 of this series of English lessons, we talked about the basics of nouns in English. We also went over the spelling rules for nouns, so if you haven’t see that lesson yet, you can find it here. For today’s lesson, let’s look at the various types of nouns and examples of each type.

First of all, we have a few more spelling rules.

Nouns Which End In IS

Nouns which are spelled with IS at the end have a special spelling rule. To make the plural form of these nouns, change the IS to ES. Here are some examples:

  • analysis becomes analyses
  • axis becomes axes
  • basis becomes bases
  • crisis becomes crises
  • emphasis becomes emphases
  • oasis becomes oases

Some Nouns Which End In US Have Special Spelling

Some nouns which are spelled with US at the end have a special spelling rule. To make the plural form of these nouns, change the US to I. Most of the words in this category come from the Latin language; they have Latin roots. Here are some examples:

  • alumnus becomes alumni
  • cactus becomes cacti
  • fungus becomes fungi
  • stimulus becomes stimuli

Please note: There are exceptions to this rule. Some words spelled with US at the end form the plural by adding ES. Here are some examples:

  • bonus becomes bonuses
  • chorus becomes choruses
  • circus becomes circuses
  • genius becomes geniuses

Nouns Which End In F or FE Have Special Spelling

Nouns which are spelled with F or FE at the end have a special spelling rule. To make the plural form of these nouns, drop the F or FE and add VES. Here are some examples:

  • half becomes halves
  • knife becomes knives
  • life becomes lives
  • loaf becomes loaves
  • shelf becomes shelves
  • wife becomes wives
  • wolf becomes wolves

About These Spelling Rules For Plural Nouns

There are a good number of nouns that don’t follow these spelling rules. I have listed some of the more common words here. A good dictionary can tell you exactly how to spell the plural form of nouns not listed here.

Irregular Nouns That Don't Change The Spelling

We also have nouns which have an irregular plural form and there are two groups of these nouns.

Nouns Which Have The Same Singular And Plural Spelling

This is a group of nouns which the same spelling in both their singular and plural form. These nouns fall into three categories: machines, animals that swim, and animals that walk.

  • Machines: aircraft, hovercraft, spacecraft, watercraft
  • Animals that swim: fish, salmon, shrimp, squid, trout
  • Animals that walk: bison, deer, moose, sheep, swine

Nouns Which Use Different Words In The Singular And Plural Forms

This group of nouns have singular and plural forms which are basically different words.

  • appendix becomes appendices
  • cactus becomes cacti
  • child becomes children
  • foot becomes feet
  • goose becomes geese
  • man becomes men
  • mouse becomes mice
  • ox becomes oxen
  • person becomes people
  • tooth becomes teeth

In the next lesson, we’ll have a look at nouns which are used as both countable and non-countable. Stay tuned!

The information here is based on The English Grammar Workbook For Adults

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