Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Spelling Rule



To form the plural

of most nouns,

simply add -s

cat > cat s

dog > dogs

Surviving Old English plural


deer > deer ; sheep > sheep ;

ox > oxen; man > men;

woman > women; child >

children ; brother (in a

religious sense)

> brethren; foot > feet;

tooth > teeth.

Some compound nouns:

passer-by > passer s-by;

mother-in- law > mother s-in-


Plural forms of not fully

naturalized foreign words:

chateau > chateau x ;

crisis > cris es ; formula >

formula e ; index > ind ices;

stimulus > stimuli

Plural forms of metric


100 km (kilometres)

60 g (grams)

2.5 l (litres)

Note that with non-metric

measurements plural s is

optional: 60 lb or 60 lbs

To form the plural of nouns

ending in

s, sh, ss, z, x or ch,

add -es to facilitate


gas > gases

dish > dish es

boss > boss es

box > boxes

watch > watch es

To form the plural of nouns

ending in y preceded by a


change the y to an i

and then add -es

lady > lad ies

baby > babies

strawberry > strawberr i es

laboratory > laboratori es

lay-by > lay-by s (BrE);

stand-by > stand-by s

Family names:

Mr. & Mrs. Brady > The


To form the plural of

a number of long

established English nouns

ending in f or fe

(but not ff or ffe!)

change the f to a v

and then add -es

half > halv es

leaf > leav es

life > liv es

knife > kniv es

Most other nouns ending in f

or fe simply add -s as usual,

but there are some cases in

which the -ves plural

formation is optional:

belief > beliefs; chief >

chiefs ;

handkerchief >


(but note handkerchie ves is

an option in British English);

safe > safes

Caution is advised and, if in

doubt, consult a dictionary.

To form the plural of

imported nouns

ending in o and long

established in English, add -


cargo > cargo es

domino > domino es

echo > echo es

embargo > embargoes

hero > hero es

potato > potato es

tomato > tomatoes

tornado > tornadoes

torpedo > torpedoes

veto > vetoes

For less naturalized nouns


in o , add -s only:

kilo > kilos ; piano > pianos ;

kimono > kimonos; radio >


In a few cases the -es plural

formation is optional. When

in any doubt, consult your


archipelago > archipelago s/

archipelago es

fiasco > fiasco s /fiasco es

halo > halos /halo es

mango > mango s/mango es

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