I hope you enjoy my first blog. Let me know what you think. It is a little prescriptive, but most grammar is. I tried to stay short and concise, so if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or contact me directly.
Most common nouns can be singular or plural. Let’s talk about the different kinds of plurals.
1. Regular nouns that take ‘s’ when plural.
The usual plural form adds “s” to the end of a word.
book — books editor — editors
2. Regular nouns that take ‘ies’, ‘es’ and ‘ves’ when plural.
When words end with a ‘y’ and are preceded by a consonant, the ‘y’ changes to an ‘i’ and ‘es’ is added.
sky — skies diary — diaries
However, when a word end with ‘y’ but is preceded by a vowel, the ‘y’ remains and ‘s’ is added.
boy — boys attorney — attorneys
Often in one-syllable words, the final ‘fe’ or ‘f’ becomes ‘ves’
Half — halves wife — wives
When the last sound in a word is /s/, /z/, /ch/, /sh/, or /ks/, ‘es’ is added so that the word is easier to pronounce.
Class — classes church — churches dish — dishes fax — faxes
3. Irregular nouns that completely change form and do not take an ‘s’ when plural.
Many nouns have plural forms that are irregular. These words must be memorized.
Child — children man — men woman — women mouse — mice
4. Non-count nouns do not change because they exist in a ‘mass’ form or are abstract nouns.
Because these nouns usually refer to a whole group of individual parts, we cannot place ‘a’ or ‘an’ directly before them. When a non-count noun is the subject in a sentence, the verb must be singular. The most common expressions of quantity that you should avoid are ‘many’ and ‘few’. Instead, use ‘much’ and ‘a little’.
Count nouns Non-Count Nouns
An apple is red. Advice is not free.
Many cats are cute. Much danger exists when scuba diving.
Few children are sick. A little salt is needed.
Note: ‘a few’ is similar to ‘several’; ‘few’ is similar to ‘not many’.
5. Noun Compounds contain a group of words, usually two, and function as a single part of speech.
An important thing to remember when pluralizing noun compounds is that we tend to pluralize the most important part of the compound. This rule is quite vague and suject to opinion, so allow me to extrapolate.
There are 3 basic forms of compounds:
a) – Hyphenated compounds like ‘mother-in-law’ and ‘court-martial’. In this case, please pluralize the word that is actually being pluralized, which tends to be the noun. The correct plural form of both these words is ‘mothers-in-law’ and ‘courts-martial’.
b) – Closed compounds like blackbird and armchair will take the plural, keeping in mind all of the rules from 1-4.
c) – Open compounds include words like ‘director general’ and ‘post office’. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pluralize the noun. As a result, the correct plural forms are ‘directors general’ and post offices’.