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English Irregular Plural Nouns

Regular Plural Forms


The majority of English count nouns are regular and predictable in the spelling of
the plural form. Add -s to the end of the singular form or -es to those singulars that
end in a sibilant sound (/s/, /z/, /ts/, /dz/).
-s
boy
bed
book
pencil
day

boys
beds
books
pencils
days

-es
horse
edge
patch
prize
box

horses
edges
patches
prizes
boxes

However, if the singular ends with -y and the -y is not preceded by a vowel (or is
not a proper name) the -y changes to -i and the plural is then -es.
-y becomes -ies
spy
poppy
penny

spies
poppies
pennies

-y becomes -ys
osprey
bay
Germany

ospreys
bays
Germanys

Outside of this pattern, however, are several nouns which are irregular in their
spelling. Below is a semi-comprehensive list compiled from various sources.

Irregular Plural Nouns - List One


Some nouns that end in -f or -fe are changed to -ves in the plural:
-f or -fe becomes -ves
calf
elf
half
hoof
knife
leaf
life
loaf
scarf
self
sheaf
shelf
thief
wife

calves
elves
halves
hooves
knives
leaves
lives
loaves
scarfs/scarves
selves
sheaves
shelves
thieves
wives

wolf

wolves

Irregular Plural Nouns - List Two


Some nouns change the vowel sound in becoming plural:
singular
fireman
foot
goose
louse
man
mouse
tooth
woman

plural
firemen
feet
geese
lice
men
mice
teeth
women

Some Old English plurals are still in use:


singular
child
ox

plural
children
oxen

Irregular Plural Nouns - List Three


Some nouns ending in -o take -s as the plural, while others take -es.
-o becomes -os
auto
kangaroo
kilo
memo
photo
piano
pimento
pro
solo
soprano
studio
tattoo
video
zoo

autos
kangaroos
kilos
memos
photos
pianos
pimentos
pros
solos
sopranos
studios
tattoos
videos
zoos

-o becomes -oes
echo
embargo
hero
potato
tomato
torpedo
veto

echoes
embargoes
heroes
potatoes
tomatoes
torpedoes
vetoes

Some nouns ending in -o take either -s or -es:


singular
buffalo
cargo
halo
mosquito

plural
buffalos/buffaloes
cargos/cargoes
halos/haloes
mosquitos/mosquitoes

motto
no
tornado
volcano
zero

mottos/mottoes
nos/noes
tornados/tornadoes
volcanos/volcanoes
zeros/zeroes

Irregular Plural Nouns - List Four


Some nouns do not change at all:
singular
cod*
deer
fish*
offspring
perch*
sheep
trout*

plural
cod*
deer
fish*
offspring
perch*
sheep
trout*

*Notice that these are names of fish. Many (but not all!) fish have irregular plural
forms. Salmon, pike, halibut and tuna are further examples, but one shark becomes
two sharks.
These include nouns that are traditionally plural, but are also used for singular
forms:
singular
barracks
crossroads
dice/die
gallows
headquarters

plural
barracks
crossroads
dice
gallows
headquarters

means

means

series
species

series
species

Irregular Plural Nouns - List Five


Other nouns retain foreign plurals. Note that some of these have adapted a regular
English plural form as well.
singular
alga
amoeba
antenna

foreign plural
algae
amoebae
antennae

English plural in use


amoebas
antennas

formula
larva
nebula
vertebra

formulae
larvae
nebulae
vertebrae

formulas
nebulas

Nouns ending in -us with plural -a (only in technical use):


singular
corpus
genus

plural
corpora
genera

Nouns ending in -us with plural -i:


singular

foreign plural

alumnus

alumni

bacillus

bacilli

cactus

cacti

focus

foci

fungus

fungi

nucleus

nuclei

octopus

octopi

radius

radii

stimulus

stimuli

syllabus

syllabi

terminus

termini

English plural in use

cactuses

funguses

octopuses

syllabuses

Nouns ending in -um with plural -a:


singular
addendum
bacterium
curriculum
datum
erratum
medium
memorandum
ovum
stratum
symposium

Foreign plural
addenda
bacteria
curricula
data
errata
media
memoranda
ova
strata
symposia

English plural in use

curriculums

memorandums

symposiums

Nouns ending in -ex, -ix becoming plural -ices:


singular
apex

Foreign plural
apices

English plural in use


apexes

appendix
cervix
index
matrix
vortex

appendices
cervices
indices
matrices
vortices

appendixes
cervixes
indexes
matrixes

Nouns ending in -is becoming -es in plural:


singular

plural

analysis

analyses

axis

axes

basis

bases

crisis

crises

diagnosis

diagnoses

emphasis

emphases

hypothesis

hypotheses

neurosis

neuroses

oasis

oases

parenthesis

parentheses

synopsis

synopses

thesis

theses

Nouns ending in -on becoming -a:


singular
criterion
phenomenon
automaton

plural
criteria
phenomena
automata

Other irregular plurals, retained from different languages:


Italian

Hebrew
Greek

singular
libretto
tempo
virtuoso
cherub
seraph
schema

plural
libretti
tempi
virtuosi
cherubim
seraphim
schemata