Singular and plural in English

Singular and plural in English

In English, singular nouns are divided into countable nouns and uncountable nouns.

Countable nounsUncountable nouns
a chairwater
an engineermilk
a questionfriendship

Countable nouns can be used in the singular  and the plural . Uncountable nouns do not have a plural.

Rules for spelling plural nouns

Most nouns end in -s in the plural. The ending -es is added in such cases.

  • If the base of the noun ends in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -х: a bus — buses; a lunch — lunches; a class — classes; a watch — watches; a bush — bushes; a box — boxes
  • If the base of the noun ends in -y with a preceding consonant, then -u changes to -i: a story — stories; a fly — flies
  • If the base of the noun ends in -o with a preceding consonant: a hero — heroes; a tomato — tomatoes

Exceptions: a piano — pianos; a photo — photos; a solo — solos.

  • In some singular nouns ending in -f or -fe, in the plural -f changes to -V with the addition of the ending -es; the letter combination -ves is pronounced as [vz]: a leaf — leaves; a wife — wives; a shelf — shelves; a wolf — wolves; a half – halves; a calf — calves; a knife — knives; a life — lives.
  • The set of other nouns of this type is formed according to the general rule: adding the ending -s, without changing f to v: a kerchief — kerchiefs; a safe — safes; a chief — chiefs; a roof — roofs.

Individual cases of formation of the plural of nouns

  • The plural of some nouns is formed by changing the root vowel (without adding an ending): a man — men; a tooth — teeth; a woman — women [‘wimin]; a goose — geese; a foot — feet; a mouse — mice.
  • The plural noun child has the form children.
  • The plural of the noun ох is formed using the ending -en: oxen.
  • The nouns sheep, deer, swine, fish, fruit and the names of some types of fish have the same form in the singular and plural:
    • He caught a lot of fish

Pay attention: The form fishes is used when talking about different types of fish; the form fruits when it comes to different types of fruit.

  • Some nouns of Latin and Greek origin retain the plural forms they had in these languages: a phenomenon — phenomena; a crisis — crises; a radius — radii.
  • In complex nouns, only the main noun takes the plural form: a daughter-in-law — daughters-in-law; a school-mate — school-mates.
  • If a compound noun is formed from other parts of speech, the plural ending is added at the end of the word: forget-me-not — forget-me-nots (forget-me-nots); merry-go-round — merry-go-rounds (carousels).
  • In the English language, there are nouns that are used only in the singular (names of substances and abstract concepts: chalk, silver peace courage, etc.) or only in the plural (names of objects consisting of two equal or similar parts: tongs , spectacles, trousers, scissors, etc.).

Please note: Some nouns in the English language are used only in the singular, and the corresponding nouns in the Ukrainian language have singular and plural forms or only plural forms: advice; knowledge; information; news; progress; money.

The number of nouns in Ukrainian and English may not match: goods, clothes, contents, wages, etc.
Some nouns that mean a set can agree with a singular or plural predicate, depending on their meaning. Such nouns include: army, audience, band, class, company, crowd, family, government, team, union etc. In this case, the number of the predicate verb depends on which shade of meaning is meant: a group of people as a whole or individual members of the group:

  • Our family is very old (The whole genus is meant).
  • Our family are happy with presents (To every member of the family).

Video – Singular and Plural Nouns for Kids

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