Spelling Singular & Plural Nouns in English

Vocabulary & Spelling

This article details the spelling rules for turning singular nouns in plural nouns.

Note, for a look at the general principles of singular and plural nouns, see Singular and Plural Nouns‏‎.

Most nouns in English are regular. To make them plural we simply add -s to the end:

singularplural
1 book2 books
1 car4 cars
1 house8 houses

In some cases, however, we need to do more when and we change the spelling.

  • If a noun ends in –ch, –sh, –s, or –x we usually add -es to the end to make it plural:
singularplural
1 church2 churches
1 crash2 crashes
1 bus2 buses
1 box2 boxes

The reason is pretty simple, trying to say these words without the /e/ sound and you’ll see what happens!

  • If a noun ends in a consonant and -y then we take off the -y and add -ies to the end:
singularplural
1 baby2 babies
1 curry2 curries
1 spy2 spies
  • Most nouns which end in -f or -fe change the ending to –ves.
singularplural
1 elf2 elves
1 loaf2 loaves
1 roof2 rooves

Note that with this last one, most people say roofs with an /f/ sound, but write rooves with a /v/ sound.

  • If the noun ends in –o then we usually add an –s to the end as with most regular nouns.
singularplural
1 piano2 pianos
1 video2 videos
  • But a few nouns which end in –o add an –es to the end:
singularplural
1 hero2 heroes
1 potato2 potatoes

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