Singular & plural nouns

Nouns in English vary in numbers, meaning they can be used in the singular or plural. We must firmly remember that only Countable nouns are applied to describe objects that we can count using numbers, can be both singular and plural. They answer the question “How many?”

Group nouns that we cannot calculate using numbers, called uncountable (uncountable nouns), they usually have no plural

In general, the plural is formed by adding to the end of the noun “-s” or “-es”

End “-s” pronounced as [s] after voiceless consonants:

gate [ɡeɪt] – gates [ɡeɪts]

End “-s” pronounced as [z] after voiced consonants:

glove [ɡlʌv] – gloves [ɡlʌvz]

It is necessary to remember the following rules:

  • End of “-es” is added in the formation of plural nouns ending in o, x, s, ss, ch, sh and read as [z]:

tomato – tomatoes [təˈmɑːtəʊz]

brush – brushes [ˈbrʌʃɪz]

class – classes  [ˈklɑːsɪz]

  • The words of foreign origin ending in “-o” in the plural only added “s”:

piano – pianos [pɪˈænəʊz]

  • In the formation of plural nouns ending in the singular to “consonant + y” – the letter “y” is changed to “i”:

army – armies  [ˈɑːmiz]

if before “y” is a vowel, the plural is formed by a general rule: day – days

  • In the formation of plural nouns ending in the singular to “-f” or “-ef” – add “-s” or “-es”, and the letter “f” is changed to “v”:

wolf – wolves

life – lives

  • In the formation of the plural complex / compound nouns that are written together, the last word is added to “-s / -es” (except stopwords):

schoolboy – schoolboys

But if a compound word hyphenated – the plural form the word that carries the meaning: sister-in-law, sisters-in-law


  • There is a group of words in which the plural is formed not by the rule, they only needed to remembered. Frequently used words are summarized in the table below:
Singular Plural
Man Men
Woman Women
Child Children
Foot Feet
Tooth Teeth
Mouse Mice
Goose [gu:s] Geese [gi:s]
  • There is a group of words whose singular form coincides with the plural form:                
Singular Plural
sheep sheep
deer deer
series series
species species
corps corps
  • There is a group of words borrowed from other languages. In which plural form is formed by the rule of the source language. Here are the most common:      
Singular Plural
datum data
index indices
bureau bureau
basis bases
  • There is a group of words, the names of some nationalities for which the singular is the same as the plural form: Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Swiss.

Still it is necessary to select a group of words which are used only in the plural:

jeans, trousers, shorts, scissors, glasses, scales, people, police, clothes


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