Irregular Plural Nouns  (less common plural markers)

Recognize nouns marked with plural forms: -ee-, -en, -oes, -a, -ae, -ices, -i

 

 

 

Mid-vowel Change vs. No Change

CHANGE MIDDLE VOWELS

In a few words, the mid-word vowels are changed to form the plural.

SINGULAR PLURAL

mouse

mouse race

mouse

mice /maɪs/

foot

feet /fit/

tooth

teeth /tiθ/

goose

geese /gis/

louse

lice /laɪs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINGULAR FORM (NO CHANGE)

In a few words, the singular form is used for both singular and plural.

SINGULAR PLURAL

fish

fish tank (plural)

fish

fish

deer

deer

sheep

sheep

shrimp

shrimp²  /ʃrɪmp/ 

offspring

offspring

series

series  /ˈsɪər-iz/

species

species   /ˈspi-ʃiz, -siz/

means

means

grapefruit

grapefruit¹

aircraft

aircraft

 

¹Plural form varies   Fruit – plural form
²Plural form varies: Br-Eng shrimps / US-Eng shrimp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irregular Plural Nouns (less common plural markers)

Borrowed words -i, -en, -a, -es, -ae

 

 

 

LATIN WORDS

In words borrowed from Latin, the Latin plural forms are used.

cactus

cacti

SINGULAR—US PLURAL – i

cactus  

cacti  cactuses

focus  /ˈfoʊkəs/

foci /ˈfoʊsaɪ, -kaɪ/  (focuses)

fungus /ˈfʌŋ-gəs/

fungi  /ˈfʌn-dʒaɪ,ˈfʌŋ-gaɪ/

nucleus /ˈnu-kli-əs/

nuclei  /ˈnu-kli-ˌaɪ/

stimulus

stimuli

syllabus  /ˈsɪl-ə-bəs/

syllabi  /ˈsɪl-ə-baɪ/

SINGULAR—ON, —UM PLURAL –A

phenomenon  Greek / Latin

phenomena    /fɪˈ-nɒ-mə-nə/

criterion   Greek / Latin

criteria

bacterium  Latin

bacteria

curriculum Latin

curricula

datum  Latin

data  /de-tə, dæ-tə, dɑ-tə/

medium Latin

media

memorandum Latin

memoranda

SINGULAR—A Plural –AE

formula /ˈfɔrmyələ/  Latin

formulas / formulae /ˈfɔrm-yə-li/

vertebra  Latin

vertebrae

SINGULAR—IX, —EX Plural –ICES, –ES,

appendix  /əˈpɛn-dɪks/ Latin

appendices / ixes  /əˈpɛn-də-siz/

index Latin 
 

indices / indexes

OLD ENGLISH WORDS OR GREEK WORDS

In some words, the plurals are derived (come) from older language forms.

man

men

SINGULAR PLURAL  –EN

*man   /mæn/ from Middle English

men /mɛn/

**woman   /ˈwʊmən/

women /ˈwɪmɪn/

child  /tʃaɪld/

children /ˈtʃɪl-drən/

ox

oxen   /ˈɒksən/

   

 

 

SINGULAR –IS    from Greek PLURAL –ES

analysis  Greek

analyses

basis  Greek

bases

crisis  Greek

crises

emphasis  Greek

emphases

hypothesis  Greek

hypotheses

oasis  /oʊˈeɪsɪs/ Greek > Egyptian

oases /oʊˈeɪsiz/

parenthesis /pəˈrɛn-θə-sɪs/  Greek

parentheses /pəˈrɛn-θə--siz/

thesis   /ˈθi-sɪs/  Greek

theses   /ˈθi-siz/

 

 

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

IPA Pronunciation Key  

*man— before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English man ( n ); cognate with German Mann, Dutch man, Old Norse mathr, Gothic manna; (v.) Middle English mannen, Old English mannian to garrison

**woman— before 900; Middle English womman, wimman, Old English wīfman, equivalent to wīf female + man human being; see wife, man1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plural

Varieties

 

 

 

PLURAL – ONE KIND

fish plural - same kind 

We bought fish.

 

 

 

 

  fruit - one kind 

We have fruit.

 

 

 

 

 shrimp plural 

The market sells shrimp.

 

 

 

 

cheese

We tasted cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

PLURAL – VARIETIES

fish -plural - different kinds 

We bought several kinds of fish at the market.
We bought different kinds of fish at the market.
We bought a variety of fish at the market.

*We bought fishes at the market. (error)

Scientific context:  Coral reef fishes, catalog of fishes, "all the fishes of the sea"

fruit - several kinds 

We have different kinds of fruit.
We have several kinds of fruit.
We have a variety of fruit.

*We have fruits(dialectal variation) 

Scientific context:  Fruits of South America, fruits that are rich in anti-oxidants, "the fruits of our labor"; we bought fruits and vegetables (parallel plurals)

shrimp plural kinds

The market sells different kinds of shrimp.
The market sells several kinds of shrimp.
The market sells a variety of shrimp.

*The market sells shrimps(uncommon usage in Amer. Eng.; dialectal variation exists)

Scientific context:  "The Secret World of Shrimps", Freshwater Shrimps, "shrimps and prawns" (parallel plurals)

cheese - several kinds

We tasted several kinds of cheese.
We tasted different kinds of cheese.
We tasted a variety of cheese.

We tasted several cheeses.  (ok - noncount noun)

Scientific context or topics:  "The Cheeses of Greece";  Aging Cheeses;  a list of cheeses

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

Also see Plurals of Compounds  and Plurals of Letters and Numbers., Possessives  and Pop-Q – "Fishes"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Irregular Plural Nouns

 

 

 

What is the plural form?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-20" button at the bottom.

 

1.
index (finger) Look for the keyword in the

2.
parentheses

3.
bacterium

4.
vertebra

5.
memorandum

6.
phenomenon
phenomenon (n.) — an amazing occurence in nature, a remarkable, exceptional person (very talented)

7.
deer

8.
cactus

9.
data

10.
formula

11.
mouse

12.
fruit
13.
fish

14.
man

15.
teeth

16.
fungus

17.
earthquake

18.
fungus

19.
fungus

20.
children