A singular noun refers to just one person, animal, thing or place while a plural noun represents more than one person, animal, thing or place. Nouns are either singular or plural. Most plural nouns have an -s added to their endings. Other plural nouns do not follow this same ending.
Some of the common plural endings are:
|Singular||Plural||How the plural is formed|
|daughter||daughters||By adding –s|
|class||classes||By adding –es to nouns ending –s|
|brush||brushes||By adding –es to nouns ending –sh|
|watch||watches||By adding –es to nouns ending –ch|
|box||boxes||By adding –es to nouns ending –x|
|potato||potatoes||By adding –es to nouns ending –o|
|piano||pianos||By adding –s to nouns ending –o|
|baby||babies||By changing –y to – ies|
|key||keys||By adding –s to some nouns ending –y|
|leaf||leaves||By changing –f to – ves|
|knife||knives||By changing –fe to – ves|
|roof||roofs||By adding –s to some nouns ending –f|
|safe||safes||By adding –s to some nouns ending –fe|
|tooth||teeth||By changing vowels|
|ox||oxen||By adding –en|
|child||children||By adding –ren|
|deer||deer||Some nouns have same singular and plural|
(For more on singular and plural nouns, see List 10 - Pronouns)
There are nouns that are always plural and take a plural verb:
Glasses (spectacles), binoculars
- These trousers are not mine.
- Pliers are a handy tool.
- My garden shears trim the hedge very well.
- My glasses are used only for reading.
"A pair of" can be used with the above plural nouns and take a singular verb.
- This pair of purple trousers does not match your yellow jacket.
- These knives do not cut well. A new pair of stainless steel scissors is what I need.
Other nouns that are always plural:
- Clothes: My clothes need to be washed but I don't have the time.
- Earnings: Earnings in the agricultural sector have increased by 5% in the fourth quarter.
- Cattle: Cattle are reared for their meat or milk.
- Police: Police are charging him with the murder of the princess.
- People: People in general are not very approachable. (Peoples when used in the plural (i.e. with '–s') refers to peoples from more than one race or nation, e.g. the peoples of Asia)
- Football team: Liverpool are a very successful football team. (But Liverpool is a great city.)
Nouns which are plural in form but take a singular verb
The following plural nouns are used with a singular verb as they are treated as singular:
Athletics, economics, gymnastics, linguistics, mathematics, mechanics, news, numismatics, measles, mumps, physics, politics and pyrotechnics
- Economics: Economics was my favourite subject at school.
- News – The good news is that we have all been invited.
- Diseases such as mumps, measles, etc: An infectious illness, mumps was common among children.
Measurements and amounts that are considered as a single unit:
- One hundred years is a century.
- Ten kilometres is a long distance.
- Twenty dollars is not enough to buy a good shirt.
- Seven days in prison is all he got for shoplifting.