Singular and Plural Words – Part Two  

You might remember our first article on singular and plural verbs and nouns. Considering the importance of singular and plural verbs and nouns, we are going to revisit the topic again and focus on a few ways to help you remember the spelling.

Before we begin, let’s recall these definitions: Singular means one item. Plural means more than one item.

Rule 3: the ‘ies’ rule

This rule is for words that end with the letter ‘y’.

Example 1

  • ‘There was a baby in the hospital.’
Singular and Plural Words - Part Two  - Simply Better English
Singular and Plural Words – Part Two  – Simply Better English

To change the word ‘baby’ to plural, we remove the letter ‘y’ and add the letters ‘ies’ to the noun.

  • ‘There were three babies in the hospital.’

Example 2

  • ‘The child gave a daisy to his sister.’

The noun ‘daisy‘ follows the ‘ies’ rule too. This means the ‘y’ will be swapped for the letters ‘ies’.

  • ‘The child gave four daisies to his sister.’

Table 1

Singular (One Item) Plural (Two or More of Each Item)
berry berries
bunny bunnies
library libraries
penny pennies
spy spies
supply supplies

 

EXCEPTIONS

As always in the English language, there are some exceptions to the rules.

Look at the words in the table below and try and work out what they have in common.

Table 2

Singular (One Item) Plural (Two or More of Each Item)
day days
joy joys
key keys

Every word in the singular column ends with a ‘y’ but the words do not follow the ‘ies’ rule. As you may have worked out, there is a vowel just before the ‘k’. When a noun ends with a vowel and is followed by a ‘y’, an ‘s’ is added to the word to change it from singular to plural.

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 1

Each sentence has a noun missing. Fill in the gaps by including a noun from Table 1 or Table 2. Remember to check if the verb is singular or plural. This will help you to place the correct singular or plural noun in the sentence.

  • Jordan lost four door…
  • The bird ate lots of…
  • The agency employed five…
  • Chris worked at two different…

Rule 4: the ‘ves’ rule

This rule is for words that end with the letter ‘f’.

Example 3

  • ‘The princess knew one dwarf.’
Singular and Plural Words - Part Two  - Simply Better English
Singular and Plural Words – Part Two  – Simply Better English

There is one ‘dwarf’ in the sentence above. If the sentence was about more than one ‘dwarf’ the ‘f’ would need to be removed and the letters ‘ves’ would need to be added.

  • ‘The princess knew lots of dwarves.’

Example 4

  • ‘On Monday, I bought a new scarf.

The word ‘scarf is singular. To change the word ‘scarf‘ to a plural, the letter ‘f’ is removed and the letters ‘ves’ are added.

  • ‘On Monday, I bought four new scarves.

Table 3

Singular (One Item)

Plural (Two or More of Each Item)

calf calves
half halves
hoof hooves
knife knives (replace the f with a v)
leaf leaves
loaf loaves
shelf shelves
thief thieves
Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Activity 2

The nouns in bold are in singular form. Rewrite the sentences below and change the nouns in bold to their plural form.

  • There was one thief.
  • On Tuesday, I saw one calf at the farm.
  • Paul saw one leaf at the park.
  • Anna ate one loaf of bread.

IRREGULAR NOUNS

When thinking about changing nouns from singular to plurals, and visa versa, there are some words that do not fit the rules.

Example 5

  • ‘Yesterday, Lionel ate one fish.’

If the sentence was about more than one fish, the spelling would stay the same.

  • ‘Yesterday, Lionel ate fifteen fish.’

Example 6

  • ‘Jackson saw one sheep at the farm’

As you can see, the word ‘sheep’ is similar to the noun ‘fish’. Whether the sentence is about one fish, two or more, the spelling stays the same.

  • ‘Jackson saw fifteen sheep at the farm’

Example 7

  • ‘There was one deer in the forest.’
Singular and Plural Words - Part Two  - Simply Better English
Singular and Plural Words – Part Two  – Simply Better English

When the word ‘deer’ is in singular or plural form, the spelling does not change.

  • ‘There were seven deer in the forest.’

The irregular nouns above stay the same when they are changed from their singular to plural form. Here are some more exceptions to the singular and plural rules in English.

Example 8

  • ‘There is one man here today.’

In this instance, the word ending does not change but instead the vowel changes.

  • ‘There are two men here today.’

The same thing happens when we are writing about a female.

  • ‘There is one woman here today.’

This sentence is changed in the same way.

  • ‘There are two women here today.’

Example 9

  • ‘There is one child in the school.’

In this instance, we add a group of letters to the word ‘child’.

  • ‘There are one hundred children in the school.’

Table 4

Singular (One Item)
Plural (Two or More of Each Item)
foot feet
goose geese
mouse mice
person people
tooth teeth

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English
Activity 3

Read each sentence below. then rewrite the sentences by changing the nouns in bold to their singular form.

  • My teeth are yellow.
  • There are five geese in the lake.
  • I have injured my feet.
  • Tiffany had six pet mice.
  • Two days ago, I saw nine sheep eating grass.

RECAP

This article has looked at singular and plural nouns. Remember singular means one item or person and plural means more than one. There are certain rules you can follow to make sure your grammar is correct but there are a few exceptions.

Here are the answers to the activities in the article. Feel free to write your answers in the comments section

Activity 1
  • Jordan lost four door keys.
  • The bird ate lots of berries.
  • The agency employed five spies.
  • Chris worked at two different libraries.
Activity 2
  • There were two thieves.
  • On Tuesday, I saw three calves at the farm.
  • Paul saw lots of leaves at the park.
  • Anna ate two loaves of bread.
Activity 3
  • My tooth is yellow.
  • There is one goose in the lake.
  • I have injured my foot.
  • Tiffany had one pet mouse.
  • Two days ago, I saw one sheep eating grass.

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