The Plural of Nouns

The two terms singular and plural describe the number of objects or persons that you are talking about. If a noun is in the singular, you are only talking about one object. If it is in the plural, you are referring to two or more objects.

The plural of countable nouns

Nouns that you can count as separate items are called countable nouns. Take for example the word coin: you can have one coin, two coins, three coins, four coins and so on.
The plural of most nouns is formed by adding an s to the end of the noun:
  • one coin two coins
  • one house two houses
  • one brother three brothers
  • one cat two cats
  • one book three books
  • one plane two planes
  • one train two trains
  • one car two cars
There are some exceptions, however.
There are nouns that end with the sound /dʒ/ or /tʃ/ as in sandwich, witch, the sound /s/ as in class, glass, the sound /z/ as in blouse or the sound /ks/ as in box, fox. You can hear the sound endings when you say the words out loud.
To form the plural for these words, add es to the end of the noun:
  • one sandwich two sandwiches
  • one match two matches
  • one class two classes
  • one box two boxes
Using Drag and Drop, decide which nouns need the plural ending -s and which nouns need the plural ending -es.
  • stewardess
  • church
  • watch
  • witch
  • friend
  • tax
  • morning
  • train
  • parent
  • kiss
  • name
  • son
plural -es
plural -s
Choose the correct plural ending for the noun.
  1. shop
  2. church
  3. illness
  4. colour
  5. glass
  6. park
  7. couch
  8. school
Read the text. Then write the nouns (in brackets) in the gaps. Decide whether you need the plural ending -s or -es or none at all.
  • Anna on the phone: "Grandma, our new home town is great! There are four (school) here. Our (school) is called Filton High School. It is very close to our (house). There are many beautiful (house) in our street. Filton has two nice (church). I really like our new town a lot! You must come and visit us soon!"

Irregularities and changes in spelling

  • Some nouns have special plural forms: for example one mouse two mice, one man two men, one woman two women.
Here is a list of the most important nouns that have an irregular plural:
  • If a noun ends with "y" after a consonant, it becomes "ie" when you form the plural (but don‘t forget the plural "s" at the end!): a party two parties, a family two families.

The plural of uncountable nouns

Remember: uncountable nouns are things that you cannot count as separate items. Never add a plural "s" to an uncountable noun! Use a partitive structure which you can mark with a plural "s": for example two slices of bread, two bottles of milk.
What is a partitive structure?
Partitive structures are measurements. In order to count "rain", you have to use a partitive structure like "a drop of". Partitive structures always have the structure "X of Y".
For example:
  • milk a bottle of milk, two bottles of milk, several bottles of milk
  • cheese a piece of cheese, three pieces of cheese
  • rice a bowl of rice, several bowls of rice
Also take a look at the related article about quantities and measurements!

Nouns that are only used in their plural form

Some nouns are only used as plurals. This is because English speakers imagine them as pairs of things.
For example:
  • trousers (zwei Beine)
  • glasses (ein Stück Glas vor jedem Auge zwei Augen!)
  • scissors (besteht aus zwei identischen Teilen)
  • headphones (zwei Ohren)
Manche Nomen werden nur als Plural benutzt, weil sie niemals als Singular vorkommen:
  • stairs
  • clothes

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