The Noun and Number: Singular and Plural Nouns

THE NOUN AND NUMBER

THE NOUN: NUMBER

There are two kinds of Number : 1. Singular, 2. Plural.

1. Singular Number

A noun that denotes one person or thing is said to be in the Singular Number.
Boy, girl, man, bird, tree, book, pen, baby, sweater etc.

2. Plural Number

A noun that denotes more than one person or thing is said to be in the Plural Number.
Boys, girls, men, birds, trees, books, pens, babies, sweaters etc.

How Plural is formed

Generally, the Plurals of nouns are formed by adding 's' to the singular form.
For example:
Singular Plural
Boy boys
Girl girls
Bird birds
Cow cows
Ship ships
Desk desks
Pencil pencils
Book books
Cassette cassettes
Film films
But,

There are some rules of changing singular nouns into plural ones.

Rule 1.

If s, ss, sh, ch, x and z are the last letters of noun, 'es' putes to the end to make them plural.
Singular Plural
Class Classes
Mass Masses
Kiss Kisses
Toss Tosses
Miss Misses
Bus Buses
Brush Brushes
Dish Dishes
Bush Bushes
Watch Watches
Bench Benches
Match Matches
Branch Branches
Tax Taxes
Box Boxes
Topaz Topazes
But, in case of Stomach (Pronounced as Stomak), Monarch (Pronounced as Monark) only 's' is needed at their end to make them plural.
Stomach Stomachs
Monarch Monarchs

Rule 2.

If there is 'O' in the end of a noun, put 'es' to the end for plural.
Singular Plural
Hero Heroes
Zero Zeroes
Volcano Volcanoes
Mango Mangoes
Mosquito Mosquitoes
Echo Echoes
Potato Potatoes
Buffalo Buffaloes
Negro Negroes
Cargoes Cargo
Bingo Bingoes
There are some exceptions where only 's' is needed for a plural one in 'o' ending nouns.
Singular Plural
Photo Photos
Piano Pianos
Dynamo Dynamos
Canto Cantos
Quarto Quartos
Momento Momentos
Solo Solos
Stereo Stereos

Rule 3.

If there are double vowels to the end of a noun, put only 's' to the end of that noun for plural.
Singular Plural
Radio Radios
Ratio Ratios
Studio Studios
Portfolio Portfolios
Cuckoo Cuckoos
Bamboo Bamboos

Rule 4.

If 'y' is the last letter of a noun and that 'y' is preceded by a consonant, then change 'y' into 'ies' for the plural forms.
Singular Plural
Spy Spies
Baby Babies
History Histories
Lady Ladies
Fly Flies
Sky Skies
Story Stories
City Cities
Army Armies
Pony Ponies

Rule 5.

If 'y' is the last letter of a noun and that 'y' is preceded by a vowels, then put only 's' to the end of that noun for plural.
Singular Plural
Lay Lays
Bay Bays
Ray Rays
Prey Preys
Кеу Keys
Storey Storeys
Tray Trays
Day Days
Clay Clays
Play Plays

Rule 6.

If 'f' or 'fe' are the last letters of a noun, then change 'f' or 'fe' into 'ves' for the plural forms.
Singular Plural
Knife Knives
Life Lives
Wife Wives
Thief Thieves
Leaf Leaves
Loaf Loaves
Calf Calves
Handkerchief Handkerchieves
Wolf Wolves
Self Selves
Shelf Shelves
Yet, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as:
Proof Proofs
Roof Roofs
Chief Chiefs
Reef Reels
Gulf Gulfs
Belief Beliefs
Grief Griefs
Brief Briefs
Serf Serfs
Dwarf Dwarfs
Hoof Hoofs
Strife Strifes

Rule 7.

It is found that a few nouns form their plural by changing the inside vowel of the singular form.
Singular Plural
Man Men
Woman Women
Tooth Teeth
Goose Geese
Mice Mouse
Louse Lice
Foot Feet

Rule 8.

There are a few nouns that form their plural by adding 'en' to the singular.
Singular Plural
Ox Oxen
Child Children

Rule 9.

There are some nouns which have their singular and plural forms a-like.
Singular Plural
Swine Swine
Sheep Sheep
Deer Deer
Trout Trout
Salmon Salmon
Pair Pair
Dozen Dozen
Score Score
Gross Gross
Stone (unit) Stone
Hundredweight Hundredweight
Hundred Hundred
Thousand Thousand
For example:
1. Ten hundred weight, make one ton.
2. The boy gave me five hundred, rupees. (When used after numerals)
3. The car cost me eighty thoudand, rupees. (When used after numerals)

Rule 10.

There are some nouns which are only used in the plural.
(a) Names of instruments which have two parts forming a kind of pair. For example:
Ballows, spectacles, scissors, tongs, pincers etc.
(b) Names of certain articles of dress. For example:
Trousers, breeches, drawers etc.
(c) Names of diseases. For example:
Measles, mumps etc.
(d) Names of games. For example:
Draughts, billiards etc.
(e) Certain other nouns. For example:
Annals, thanks, proceeds (of a sale). tidings, environs, nuptials, obsequies, assets, chattels, odds, amends, seals, shambles, vegetables, troops, particulars, aborigins, alms, ashes, arrears, dregs, eaves, earnings, sweepings, etc.

Rule 11.

There are some plural forms of nouns which are actually singular. For example:
Innings, mathematics, news, civics, politics, physics, ethics, economics, mechanics, summons etc.
Mathematics is an easy subject. (Mathematics is singular number)
If plural looking subjects are particularised or possessed, they become as plural nouns:
1. My Mathematics are strong. (Mathematics - possessed, plural number)
2. The politics of our state are dirty. (politics - particularised, plural number)
3. The summons was issued by the magistrate. (summons - singular number)

Rule 12.

The following nouns are always used in singular number. For example:
Scenery, machinery, poetry, stationery, sultry, jewellery, crockery, luggage, baggage, breakage, haltage, percentage, knowledge, postage, wastage, furniture, information, traffic, coffee, dust etc.

Rule 13.

Certain Collective Nouns, though singular in form, are always used as plurals. For example:
Poultry, cattle, vermin, people, gentry etc.

Rule 14.

In Compound Nouns, we make their plural forms only by adding 's' to the main word.
Singular Plural
Father-in-law Fathers-in-law
Daughter-in-law Daughters-in-law
Mother-in-law Mothers-in-law
Commander-in-chief Commanders-in-chief
Step-daughter step-daughters
Maid-servant Maid-servants
Looker-on Lookers-on
Passer-by Passers-by
Man-of-war Men-of-war
Coat-of-mill Coats-of-mill
Now, look at these examples :
Singular Plural
Man killer Man killers
Chief Minister Chief Ministers
Woman hater Woman haters
Cupful Cupfuls
Handful Handfuls
Drawback Draw backs

Rule 15.

Nouns borrowed from other languages in English have their special rules to change them into plural.
Singular Plural
Datum Data
Ditum Dita
Erratum Errata
Bacterium Bacteria
Referendum Referenda
Momorandum Memoranda
Agendum Agenda
Medium Media
Sanatorium Sanatoria
Criterion Criteria
Phenomenon Phenomena
Oasis Oases
Thesis Theses
Hypothesis Hypotheses
Analysis Analyses
Crisis Crises
Index Indice/Indices
Apparatus Apparatus
Series Series
Innings Innings
Species Species

Rule 16.

Some 'um' ending Latin nouns take only 's' in plural form.
Singular Plural
Harmonium Harmoniums
Quorum Quorums
Forum Forums
Premium Premiums
Pendulum Pendulums
Stadium Stadiums

Rule 17.

Noun + Proposition + the same noun remain always singular in use.
For example:
  • Village after village - correct
  • Match after match -correct
  • Row upon row -correct
  • Word for word -correct
But,
  • Villages after villages -wrong
  • Matches after matches -wrong
  • Rows upon rows - wrong
  • Word for words - wrong

Rule 18.

The digits, verbs, pronouns and abbreviations take their plural form in the following ways:
Singular Plural
70 70's
21 21's
shall shall's
will will's
if if's
what what's
who who's
M.A. M.A.s (not M.A.'s)
B.A. B.A.s (not B.A's)
M.L.A. M.L.A.s (not M.L.A.'s)

Rule 19.

Some nouns have two meanings in the singular but only one in plural.
Singular Plural
Light (radiance, a lamp) Lights (Lamps)
Practice (habit, exercise of a profession) Practices (habits)
Powder (dust, a dose of medicine in fine grains like dust) Powders (doses of medicine)
People (nation, men and women) Peoples (nations)

Rule 20.

Some nouns have two forms for the plural each with a somewhat different meaning.
Singular Plural
Brother Brothers : sons of the same parent,
Brethren : members of a society of a community.
Cloth Cloths : kinds or pieces of cloth,
Clothes : garments.
Die Dies : stamps for coining,
Dice : small cubes used in games.
Fish Fishes : taken separately,
Fish: collectively
Genius Geniuses : persons of great talent,
Genii: spirits
Index Indexes : tables of contents to books,
Indices : signs used in algebra
Penny Pennies : number of coins,
Pence : amount in value

Rule 21.

Some nouns have one meaning in the singular and more than one in the plural.
Singular Plural
Colour (hue) Colours (hues, the flag of a regiment)
Custom (habit) Customs (habits, duties levied on imports)
Effect (result) Effects (results, property)
Manner (method) Manners (methods, correct behaviour)
Moral (a moral lesson) Morals (moral lessons, conduct)
Number (a quantity) Numbers (quantities, verses)
Pain (suffering) Pains (sufferings, care, exertion)
Premise (proposition) Premises (propositions, buildings)
Quarter (fourth part) Quarters (fourth part, lodgings)
Spectacle (a sight) Spectacles (sights, eye-glasses)
Letter (letter of the alphabet, epistle) Letters (letters of the alphabet, epistles, literature)
Ground (earth, reason) Grounds (enclosed land attached to house, reasons, dregs)

Rule 22.

Some nouns change their meaning when we make them plural.
Singular Plural
Air : atmosphere Airs : affected manners
Alphabet : letter Alphabets : longuages
Advice : counsel Advices : information
Abuse : bad language Abuses : languages
Compass : exterit, range Compasses: an instrument for drawing circles
Force : strength Forces : military forces
Good : benefit, well-being Goods : merchandise
Physic: medicine Physics : natural science
Practice : habit Practices : traditions
Iron: a kind of metal Irons : fetters
Light : radiant Lights : lamps
Respect : regard Respects : compliments
Work : duty Words : creations

Rule 23.

(a) Abstract Nouns have no plural. For example:
Hope, charity, love, kindness, happiness, hatred etc.
When such words do appear in his plural form, they are used as common nouns. For example:
1. Kindnesses = acts of kindness.
2. Provocations = instances or cases of Provocations.
(b) There are also some names of substances or materials which are never used in plurals. They are called Material Nouns. For example:
Copper, iron, tin, wood etc.
But, when these words are used in the plural, they become Common nouns and also, their meanings are changed. For example:
1. Coppers = copper coins.
2. Irons = fetters.
3. Tins = cans made of tin.
4. Woods = forests.

Related Topics from Noun:

  1. Noun: Classification and Formation Of Abstract Nouns
  2. The Noun and Number: Singular and Plural Nouns
  3. The Noun and Case: Possessive Nouns
  4. Gender: Noun and Gender, Types and Examples
  5. Count Nouns vs. Non-Count Nouns

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