English Grammar: Plural

English Grammar: Plural

Uh oh, now there are two of them! Time to learn about forming plurals in English.

This is a part of a basic series on English grammar. You can find the other posts below:

A noun can either come in the singular or the plural. In this post we will take a closer look at how to form the plural with a noun and how that interacts with the rest of the sentence. Forming the plural is important because it allows us to talk about nouns that have a quantity of two or more. Let’s get started.

Forming the plural of a noun in English is simple. For most nouns, you add an -s to the end of a word. Examples of singular nouns followed by their plural form:

  • Duck – Ducks
  • Paper – Papers
  • Book – Books
  • Banana – Bananas

There are some exceptions to this. If the word ends with an s, normally -es is added to the end/ Examples of singular nouns followed by their plural form:

  • Glass – Glasses
  • Waitress – Waitresses

There are some irregular words in English which do not follow either of these rules. Sometimes there are words that the plural and the singular are the same. Sometimes there are words in which the plural and the singular are different sounding words altogether. There are no rules to these irregular exceptions. You will have to learn them by heart. Though, a lot of these exceptions have to do with animals.

Examples of singular words that are the same as their plural words:

  • Moose – Moose
  • Deer – Deer
  • Fish – Fish

Examples of singular words that are different from their plural words:

  • Person – People
  • Goose – Geese
  • Mouse – Mice

There are also special exceptions for words that derive from Latin. You can find a description of how to deal with plural Latin-derived words here.

Though, there are exceptions to how you form the plural noun in English, for the most part -s is added to the end of a noun to form the plural.

There are some ways in which the plural can affect the verb. You can think of this as a conjugation, though it is not quite as rigid as Spanish or Dutch verb conjugations. First, let’s take a look at the following examples:

  • I run there.
  • You run there.
  • He runs there.
  • She runs there.
  • It runs there.
  • James runs there.
  • We run there.
  • They run there.

Things to note:

  • In the first person singular (I) and the second person singular (you), the verb does not end in an -s. Examples: I run there. I jump high. You walk down.
  • In the third person singular (he, she, it), the verb does end with an -s. Examples: He runs there. James jumps high. The dog sleeps.
  • In any plural form, the verb does not end in an -s. We run. We jump. The dogs sleep.

For more examples of the plural interacting with the verb, see below:

  • The dog sleeps. – singular
  • The dogs sleep. – plural
  • The person runs away. – singular
  • The people run away. – plural
  • The deer jumps high. – singular
  • The deer jump high. – plural 
  • Remember, deer is an example of a word that is the same in plural and singular, so the verb is what tells the listener if the noun is plural or singular.

Now that we have a basic overview of some of the parts of speech. Let us take a look again at forming sentences in The Parts of Speech and the Sentence (Part 2).

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