We are continuing our discussion on nouns and English grammar! If you have not read our blog post on the introduction to nouns, it would be a good place to start before reading this one.
In this blog, we want to begin to talk you about using nouns properly. When you learn how to use nouns in the correct way, it will make your English language learning experience easier and will also improve your English grammar.
This blog will focus on the singular and plural forms of nouns, and the regular and irregular form of plural nouns as well.
Try to practice speaking all the example sentences we have provided so you can improve your spoken English.
Singular and Plural Forms of Nouns
A noun can refer to one thing or to more than one thing. Singular means one. Plural means more than one.
- Example: I am wearing a hat.
The noun hat is singular. I am wearing just one hat.
- Example: There must be over a hundred hats in the shop.
The noun hats is plural. There are more than one hundred hats.
Most nouns change from singular to plural with -s or -es.
Most nouns are changed to the plural form by adding the letter -s at the end.
- Singular examples: Car, computer, ball, tree, apple
- Plural examples: Cars, computers, balls, trees, apples
There are some exceptions to this rule:
Some nouns end in -s or similar sounds. These nouns become plural with -es. Nouns that end in -s, -sh, -ch, -x or -z take the ending -es.
- Singular examples: Box, fox, church, bush, gas
- Plural examples: Boxes, foxes, churches, bushes, gases
Nouns that end in -f or -fe. The -f or -fe is changed to -v-. The ending -es makes the noun plural.
- Singular examples: half, knife, shelf, wife, wolf
- Plural examples: halves, knives, shelves, wives, wolves
Most nouns ending in -o take the ending -es.
- Singular examples: potato, tomato, hero, volcano
- Plural examples: potatoes, tomatoes, heroes, volcanoes
However, some nouns ending with an -o add an -s only.
- Singular examples: Halo, piano, studios
- Plural examples: Halos, pianos, studios
Nouns ending in -y following a consonant. Change -y to -i-. Use the ending -es.
- Singular examples: Baby, lady, berry
- Plural examples: Babies, ladies, berries
When a noun ends with -y following a vowel, use the ending -s.
- Singular examples: Boy, monkey, chimneys
- Plural examples: Boys, monkeys, chimneys
Sometimes there are no easy explanations for the rules of English language plurals. When in doubt, check the dictionary for the correct spelling.
Some nouns do not form the plural with -s or -es. They are irregular plurals. Some examples of irregular plurals are:
- Singular examples: Child, foot, tooth, woman, alumnus
- Plural examples: Children, feet, teeth, women, alumni
Some nouns are the same in the singular and plural. For example:
Deer, sheep, species
- Example: We saw a beautiful deer at the zoo.
There is one deer.
- Example: The deer are running from the cheetahs.
There are several deer.
Some nouns may have two different kinds of plural, such as:
- Singular example: Fish (in general)
- Plural example: Fishes (counted individually)
- Example: Paul named all the fishes in the tank after famous swimmers.
The plural is fishes because Paul named each fish.
- Example: Fish that live in the ocean cannot survive in the river.
The plural is fish because the sentence talks about fish in general.
Using Singular and Plural Nouns
You need to know if the noun is singular or plural when you write a sentence. In sentences, the verb changes for singular or plural nouns. It has to ‘agree’ with the noun. We will learn about this in the lesson Subject-Verb Agreement.
- Example: A cow eats grass.
The noun cow is singular. The verb form eats is for the singular.
- Example: Cows eat grass.
The noun cows is plural. The verb form eat is for the plural.
Certain plural nouns are used as singular. Some examples are:
news, politics, mathematics, luggage
- Example: Mathematics is my favorite subject in school.
- The noun and verb agree. Mathematics is singular.
- Example: The news this morning is not very encouraging.
- The noun news is singular and the verb is agrees with it.
Collective nouns are usually singular, even though they might sound plural. They refer to a group or collection as one item. For example:
crowd, flock, committee, a hundred dollars
- Example: A hundred dollars is a lot of money for such a small box of candy.
The hundred dollars is treated as a collection. It is like a single unit. The verb is agrees.
- Example: The crowd is getting very impatient.
The crowd refers to a group. It acts like a single item and the verb is agrees.
Non-countable nouns do not have plural forms. They act like singular nouns in sentences.
- Example: The water is deep.
The water is non-countable. It is used as a singular noun.
- Example: I would like some ketchup with my fries.
The noun ketchup is non-countable. It is singular and the determiner some can be used with singular nouns.
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This was a short lesson in the proper use of nouns in their singular and plural forms. Practicing your English grammar is important if you are trying to learn English. We understand that it takes time and effort, which is why we are here to make your language learning experience a little bit easier. To practice English from the comfort of your home, try the free EnglishHelper English speaking course. It will also help improve your spoken English.