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Archive Language Point 116

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Spelling - plural nouns

Khalid holding a hammer and Tim in the living room

The most common way of making nouns plural is to add 's' or 'es' (book, books, box, boxes).

Here some other rules about the spelling of plural nouns.

Nouns ending consonant + y

baby babies     city cities     lorry lorries
lady ladies     butterfly butterflies     pony ponies

Nouns ending -sh, -ch, -s, -x, or -z

bush →  bushes     church →  churches     bus →  buses
box →  boxes     buzz →  buzzes        

There are some nouns ending in -o which also fall into this category:

tomato  →  tomatoes     potato  →  potatoes     echo  →  echoes
hero  →  heroes     volcano  →  volcanoes     mosquito  →  mosquitoes

But most nouns ending in -o don't fall into this category:

photo  →  photos     piano  →  pianos     solo  →  solos
Eskimo  →  Eskimos     radio  →  radios     studio  →  studios

Nouns ending -f or -fe

calf  →  calves   half  →  halves   wife  →  wives
wolf  →  wolves   life  →  lives   leaf  →  leaves

Note: the plural of roof → can be roofs or rooves

Uncountable singular nouns ending -s

Normally there are no plurals of these nouns:
athletics   mathematics   physics  
news   politics   economics  

Plural nouns

These nouns have no singular versions:
trousers   clothes   goods
thanks   congratulations   earnings

Other nouns with irregular plurals

The examples below have unusual plural forms
mouse  →  mice     child  →  children     person  →  people
tooth  →  teeth     woman  →  women     goose  →  geese


Short for do-it-yourself (do tasks around the home or garden rather than pay someone to do the work for you)

I had the flat to myself
no-one else was in the flat except me

checked with
asked that it's OK or asked permission from someone

give someone the thumbs up
tell someone it's OK to do something, show you approve of something


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