English Grammar Step by Step
SINGULAR AND PLURAL NOUNS
Change the singular words given in the exercises below into
After -ch, -sh, -s, -ss, -x, -z and -zz, we add -es.
play→plays (vowel + y)
spy→spies (consonant + y→i + es)
-fe and -f often change to -ves when making the plural.
However, the following words do not undergo any change:
At times, both combinations are possible, though:
dwarf→dwarfs or dwarves
handkerchief→handkerchiefs or handkerchieves
hoof→hoofs or hooves
scarf→scarfs or sacarves
turf→turfs or turves
wharf→wharfs or wharves
kilo→kilos (‘kilo’ is an abbreviation for ‘kilogramme’.)
concerto→concertos (The origin of this word is Italian, that
is, foreign. ‘Concerti’ is also possible, but less usual.)
folio→folios (The -o is preceded by a vowel.)
The -o ending makes the plural by adding -es. Yet, it only
takes an -s with abbreviations and words whose origin is
foreign: bistro, casino, canto, curio, concerto, dynamo,
hello (also hallo or hullo), hippo, inferno, kilo, kimono,
photo, piano, pro, rhino, solo, soprano, torso and tremolo.
Sometimes, both combinations are possible: banjo→banjos/
banjoes; cargo→cargos/cargoes; commando→ commandos/
commandoes; dodo→dodos/dodoes; fiasco→fiascos/fiascoes;
lasso→lassos/lassoes; mango→mangos/mangoes; motto→mottos/
mottoes; placebo→placebos/placeboes; tornado→tornados/
tornadoes; veto→vetos/vetoes; volcano→volcanos/volcanoes.
We add only one -s to the singular noun if the o is
preceded by another vowel: kangaroo→kangaroos.
‘Skull’ has a different ending from those given in the
sections above, so we form the plural with an -s.
6 Revision exercise.
t burglar alarm
Words of Greek origin ending in -is, form the plural by
changing the -i- into -e-, as in the above example.
Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions: chrysalis→
chrysalises, chrysalides; iris→irises; metropolis→
metropolises. Axis→axes, pelvis→pelvises, penis→penises
(or penes) and testis→testes come from Latin.
thorax→thoraces/thoraxes (The Latin language took it from
Some Latin-origin substantives ending in -ex or -ix have two
plural forms: one regular and one irregular, as seen above.
Occasionally, we might have a variation in meaning. For
example, appendix can refer to a book (appendices) and to
a body (appendixes, appendices). The noun ‘mix’ is not
regarded as foreign by speakers of English; therefore, only
the regular plural form is possible: mixes.
9 Revision exercise.
o windscreen wiper
p flat battery
w thermos flask
dice, die (dated)→dice
fish→fish/fishes (types of fish)
Inuit→Inuits/Inuit (or Innuit→Innuits/Innuit)
rhinoceros→rhinoceroses/rhinoceros (also rhino→rhinos/rhino)
12 Revision exercise.
j address book
o vegetable rack
Busses is possible as well, especially in American English.
Note that the consonant is doubled too.
Notice the following: chilli→chillies (chili→chilies is
Although ‘potato’ is taken from the Castilian word ‘patata’ —a
blend from the Taino forms ‘papa’ and ‘batata’—, it should be
considered as an English one, because it has wholly adapted
to the language.
Compounds generally make plural the last element. All the same,
if we have an adjective in the second element, only the first
element is made plural: court-martial→courts-martial.
Phrasal verbs may become nouns. In this case, we add an -s to
the end (break-up→break-ups, lay-by→lay-bys, turn-off→
She broke up with him.
Their break-up caused him a lot of pain.
However, exceptions can occur: passer-by→passers-by. Note
too sister-in-law→sisters-in-law. Sister-in-laws is also
possible in informal British English.
When the words man or woman are in the compound, both nouns
take the plural form: woman priest→women priests. If they
are written as one word, and man or woman come first in the
compound, they usually behave as ordinary nouns: manservant→
manservants (also menservants), manhunt→manhunts, manhour→
manhours; but statesman→ statesmen, sportswoman→sportswomen,
The plural of this word is regular. This noun was taken
from French. It originally comes from Latin.
It is a blend: teleprinter + exchange. It has a regular plural.
In very formal contexts, ‘persons’ is possible.
Words like buffalo, carp, crab usually make the plural with
an -s, but no -s is added when they are used in specialized
contexts. For instance, a hunter would say I killed two buffalo
yesterday, but some Sunday trippers would say We saw a lot of
buffaloes this morning.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2 and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)