Grammar Time: Plurals of Nouns

The two biggest groups of English nouns are countable nouns and uncountable nouns. A countable noun has a singular form and a plural form. Let’s revise the plurals of nouns.

Exam in Mind Level B1/B2

Study the rule Plurals of Nouns

In modern English the singular form of a noun is unmarked (zero ending). The regular plural form is marked by the inflexion -(e)s: a book – books, a fox – foxes 

The spelling and the pronunciation of the plural morpheme vary:

  • s is pronounced as [s] after the following consonants: [f], [k], [p], [t], [Ө]
  • -s is pronounced as [z] after the following consonants: [b], [d], [g], [l], [m], [n], [ŋ], [v], [ð] and vowels.
  • The plural -(e)s is pronounced as [iz] after the sounds: [z], [s], [ʤ], [ʧ],
  • The final [Ө] is pronounced as [ð] in the plural in mouths, baths, wreaths.

Answer the questions Plurals of Nouns

  1. What is the most common way of making the plurals of nouns?
  2. How do we make the plurals of words ending in a consonant + -y?
  3. How do we make the plurals of words ending in a vowel + -y?
  4. After which letters and groups of letters do we add –es to the singular?

Task 1. Put these words in the plural and pronounce them.

Address, beach, berry, bottle, box, brush, bush, case, cinema, cliff, clock, bridge, colony, computer, cow, desk, dog, eye, face, fox, garage, glass, guy, guitar, house, hotel, island, lake, language, library, light, line, list, lorry, loss, match, mess, month, morning, mouth, office, party, parent, park, path, peach, piece, road, shop, space, switch, stitch, play, poppy, reply, sandwich, smile, space, story, tape, toe, toy, tree, village, witch, worry.

Task 2. Put these words in the plural. There is one word in each set in which the plural ending is pronounced differently from the others. Find the odd words. 

  1. house   horse   match   line   age
  2. сliff   clip   market   month   scream
  3. store   chair   heart   wire   ear
  4. bell   verb   lesson   pet   name
  5. tap   chief   orange   cake   rat
  6. list   hotel   shop   tape   lake
  7. eye   island   party   witch   smile

Task 3. Change the number of the nouns in italics making all the necessary changes. 

  1. The train flew past the village.
  2. The dish is in the cupboard.
  3. He rode his own horse at the race.
  4. Do you know the boy who delivers the newspaper?
  5. The doctor saw a bruise on his hand.
  6. This is an English dictionary.
  7. I don’t like your caprice.
  8. The speech was very interesting.
  9. The bird was singing in the bush.
  10. This factory has a very good laboratory.
  11. There had been no witness at the trial.
  12. Where is the brush to clean the bench?
  13. The girl received an apple, an orange, a chocolate, and a sweet.
  14. This story is very long.
  15. I cut the paragraph out of the magazine.
  16. I like his new play.
  17. The sailor from the ship and the soldier from the regiment met on the square.
  18. Put the pencil into the box.
  19. This cherry is very sweet.
  20. I’ve lost my key.
  21. We have a Henry in our family. (three)
  22. train is much faster than a bus.
  23. lion is a dangerous animal.
  24. lawyer earns more than a waitress.
  25. The voice of the teacher came from the classroom.
  26. Take your place in the coach.
  27. This family needs a new flat.
  28. There is a peach in the basket.
  29. The page in the book is torn.
  30. An alley runs along the side of the house.

Task 4. Use the following nouns with the numbers in the brackets. 

Example: genius (2) – two genuises

Rose (5), inch (10) bridge (3), quiz (3), brush (7), nose (2), witch (6), bus (12), month (12), horse (8), song (4), voice(2), apple (12), bag (3), village (8), factory (5), toy (4), plate (4), hen (7), dish (8), race (2), butterfly (5), party (2), box (5), city (9), oath (2), piece (3), hobby (3), vase (5), boss (2), wreath (5), journey (2), bath (6), law (2), watch (8), street (3), class (11), lion (4), moth (9), storey (7), text (7), garage (2), monarch (2), dress (5), coach (4), nurse (6), visa (3), song (2), century (10), path (2), truth (2), match (10), pen (5), place (5), fox (2), chair (3), witness (8), axe (7), taxi (4).

Nouns Ending in -o

Nouns ending in -o are made plural by adding -es: hero – heroes; potato – potatoes

Nouns ending in -o are made plural by adding -s:

  • nouns ending in a vowel + o: embryo – embryos; radio – radios
  • nouns ending in double o: bamboo – bamboos; zoo – zoos
  • to abbreviations: photo – photos; disco – discos
  • musical instruments: piano – pianos; cello – cellos
  • proper names: Eskimo – Eskimos;
  • compound words: hair-do – hair-dos; set-to – set-tos
  • there are some words to remember: solo – solos; tobacco – tobaccos 

Some nouns ending in -o can take either -es or -s: buffalo – buffalo(e)s; zero – zero(e)s 

Study the rule and supply each item of the rule with examples from the list of words given below. Look the words up in the dictionary and translate them from English into Ukrainian:

Mangoes, dos (do’s), tomatoes, cargoes, stereos, bamboos, cuckoos, portfolios, volcano(e)s, pianos, lean-tos, logos, videos, echoes, archipelago(e)s, discos, manifesto(e)s, embargoes, kangaroos, grotto(e)s, mottoes, tornado(e)s, torpedoes, commandos, folios, concertos, memos, vetoes, kimonos, ghetto(e)s, tobaccos, banjos, mosquito(e)s, cellos, rhinos, hippos, dominoes, dynamos, cockatoos, tangos, halo(e)s, portico(e)s, cameos, lasso(e)s, igloos. 

Study the rule:

We should add –s or ’s to the word in order to build the plural form of:

  • a proper name,
  • some parts of speech used as a noun,
  • a letter,
  • a figure,
  • an abbreviation

e.g. Maria – Marias, Henry – Henrys,  an and – and(‘)s, no – no’s (noes), one c – two c’s, in 1990 – in the 1990s,  an  MP – MPs.

Proper names ends in consonant +y usually have plurals in –ys: The Connerys are planning to buy a bigger house. 

Task 5. Write the correct form of the noun (singular or plural).  

Memo, SOS, toes, cello, armies, grottoes, zero, skis, alibis, mosquito, MP, volcano, taboo, body, tomato, century, skies, shoes, hero, monkey, set-to, domino, floes, Bobby, no, canoes, parties, storey, buffaloes, pieces, donkey, echoes, embryo, cuckoo, difficulty, Hindoo, lilies, quiz, fez.

Task 6. Change the number of the nouns in italics making all the necessary changes. 

  1. I was shown a portfolio of photos.
  2. He was established a hero.
  3. A cuckoo began calling from a thorn tree.
  4. This bay was probably the crater of the volcano that formed the island.
  5. He plays Bach every day on the cello and on the piano.
  6. His house looked more like a ramblingstudio than a dwelling.
  7. The Air Madagascar DC-3 took off at dawn.
  8. It was a real set-to, wasn’t it?
  9. She took down her hair and tried a new hair-do.
  10. We expect to see a monkeya rhino and a deer in the zoo.

Task 7. Give the plural of the words in brackets. 

  1. The (Hindoo)__________ and the (Muslim) liked and trusted him.
  2. They listened to the cruel singing of the (mosquito)___________  outside the curtain.
  3. She thought of all the (sack)__________  of (potato)___________  she used to carry.
  4. A lot of Japanese students of English have difficulty with the pronunciation of (b)_____ and (v)_____.
  5. People came into the dining-saloon by (one)_____  and (two)_____  in a very shy manner.
  6. The men struggled with grey dust covering their (face)__________  and (body)__________.
  7. There’s going to be no more movies, no more champagne, no more (hair-do)__________  for little Jean.
  8. Now I don’t want to hear any more (why)__________.
  9. I believed all the adventures of my favourite (hero)__________.
  10. The room seemed to be full of the (echo)__________ of his voice.
  11. Large bronze (dragonfly)__________  flew by with a dry sound of swift (wing)__________.
  12. Michael watched her standing by the door making her (good-bye)__________.
  13. The station carried large (telescope)__________  that made it possible to get many (photo)__________  of the Sun.
  14. Athenly was very proud of the country family to which he belonged: «The (Athenly)__________  have lived there for seven (century)__________».
  15. I’ll now call Mrs. Ralph Ppynrryn, we spell her name with two (p)_____ two (y)_____, two (r)_____ and two (n)_____.

Nouns Ending in -f/-fe

  • Nouns with a singular in -f(e), plural in -ves: calf – calves, half – halves, knife – knives, leaf – leaves, life – lives, loaf – loaves, self – selves
  • Nouns with a singular in -f(e), plural in -f(e)s: roof – roofs, cuff – cuffs
  • Nouns with a singular in -f(e), plural in -f(e)s or in -ves: hoof – hooves(-fs), wharf – wharves(-fs), scarf – scarves(-fs)

Irregular Plurals

  • Nouns with singular and plural the same: trout, deer, fish, means, offspring
  • Nouns with irregular plurals: child – children, foot – feet, goose – geese, man – men, ox – oxen, penny – pence, woman – women
  • Words indicating numbers: the words dozen(=12), score(=20), hundred, thousand, million, billion stay in the singular form when when they are preceded with a number or preceded by ‘several‘, ‘a few’, ‘many’: two hundred people, three million soldiers, four thousand planes, five billion dollars, several thousand people, fourscore(=80). But if no number comes before these words and they are followed by ‘of’ and by a noun, they may be plural: hundreds of people, millions of soldiers, thousands of planes, billions of dollars, dozens of eggs, dozens of times, scores of charming hotels.

Task 8. Give singular of the nouns.

Aircraft, cod, muffs, mice, moose, sheep, salmon, carp, pike, plaice, mackerel, dwarfs, shelves, species, gulfs, teeth, wolves, grouse, whereabouts, lice, thieves, million, elves, sheaves, cliffs, swine, safes, chiefs, series, proofs, wives, kennels, briefs, customs, brethren,  series, crossroads, hovercraft, beliefs, billion, works, spacecraft, headquarters, barracks, gallows, bison, alms, chassis, corps, handkerchiefs, griefs, turves, dice.