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English noun/Catalogs/English irregular nouns

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The normal way to form a plural noun in English is to add the suffix -s, which changes into -es after s, z, ch and sh. Nouns with the stem ending in -ŷ after a consonant replace this ending with -íes[1] (after vowels: dónkeys, Mòndâys, formed regularly). But there are also many irregular nouns, some with English roots, others with plural forms from Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Hebrew and Arabic. (The accents, which are not part of the language, are included to show stress and pronunciation: see English spellings for a table and English phonemes for the IPA. There is also a key at the foot of this page. Words in italics suggest meaning, and an equals sign is placed between homophones.)

Nouns in -f vary between -fs and -ves. In particular, the traditional plural of dwårf was dwårfs, but Tolkien popularized dwårves.

Nouns in -o that always change to -ôes in the plural are included in the table below; others are regular, ending in -ôs, while búffalo, càrgo, dómino, hâlo, mosquìto (-skì-), mótto, nô, tornâdo, volcâno and zêro can be seen with both -ôs and -ôes.

Nouns of Latin origin in -us that always have -î in the plural are listed below, while cáctus, fôcus, fúngus, hippopótamus, óctopus and sýllabus can have both -î and -uses (though octopodes, not óctopi, is the correct Latin).

Nouns of Greek origin in -sís (-ssíss), análysis, áxis, bâsis, crîsis, diagnôsis, émphasis, hypóthesis, neurôsis, oâsis, parénthesis, synópsis, sýnthesis and thêsis have their plurals in -sês (-ssêez): análysês (*ənáləssêez) etc.

Nouns of Latin origin in -ndum, addéndum, referéndum and memorándum, change to -nda: addénda, referénda (optionally),[2] memoránda.

Apart from vŏrtex, plural vŏrtices (-tíssêez), nouns of Latin origin in -ex and -íx (âpex, appéndix, cërvix, índex and mâtrix) have plurals in both -icês and -xes (-xíz). índexes tend to be the things at the ends of books, while índices covers the more mathematical meanings.

Invariable nouns

The following have the same form in the singular and plural: ãircraft, bárracks, bîson, cód, cróssroads, dêer animal (= dêar loved, expensive), dîce (dîe as the singular of dîce is archaic), físh (although físhes can be used if more than one species of fish is involved),[3] gállows, hálibut, ínnings (cricket; in baseball the singular is ínning), héadquarters, mêans, moôse, óffspring, përch fish (otherwise përches), pîke fish (otherwise pîkes), sálmon (*sámmon), sêries, shêep, spêcies (-shíz), tròut and tûna.

Nouns with both regular and irregular forms

In the case of some nouns, there exist two plural forms—one regular ending in -s, the other irregular—where only one of the forms is correct in a given context:

anténna: anténnas, BrE only anténnaê

bròther: bròthers family, bréthren church

índéx: índéxes book, índícês mathematics

mêdium: mêdiums spiritualists, mêdia others

pénny: pénnies coins, pénce amount

përson: përsons formal, pêople everyday

referéndum: referéndums vote, referénda question

Table of irregular nouns

Prefixed nouns are not included if their plural endings are the same as that of the root noun: for example the plural of snôwmán is snôwmén.

alùmnus[4] alùmnî
BrE, AmE amoêba, AmE also amêba BrE amoêbaê, amoêbas, AmE amoêbas
anténna BrE anténnaê, both AmE and BrE anténnas
autómaton autómata, autómatons
bacíllus bacíllî
bactêrium bactêria
bâsis bâsês (*bâyssêez, cf. bâses base *bâyssíz = bâsses music)
bròther church bréthren (-dh-; bròther family is regular: bròthers)
cālf (*cāf) cālves (*cāvz)
chérub chérubìm[5] theology, chérubs art
chîld chíldren
cŏrpus cŏrpora
critêrion critêria (both -î-)
currículum currícula, currículums
dâtum, dàtum BrE dâta, AmE also dáta
díctum dícta, díctums
díngo díngoes
écho échoes (both ék-)
eistéddfod (*î-stédhvod) eistéddfodau (*î-stédhvodî) or regular
élf élves
embàrgo embàrgoes
errātum errāta
fôcus fôcuses, fôcî (*fôassî)
foòt fêet
fŏrmula fŏrmulaê, fŏrmulas
gêniê (= Jêanniê) gênìî, gênies, gínn (all j-; cf. gêniuses, plural of gênius[6])
génus génera (both j-)
gladiôlus gladiôlî
goôse gêese
hālf (*hāf) hālves (*hāvz, cf. háves, plural of háve)
hêro hêroes
hoôf hoôves[7]
índéx índéxes book, índícês mathematics
kibbùtz kibbùtzìm
knîfe knîves (both n-)
làrva BrE làrvaê, AmE làrvas
lêaf lêaves (= homonym lêaves leaving)
librétto libréttì
liêd song (*lêet) liêder (= lêader lead)
lîfe lîves (cf. líves dwells)
lòuse lîce
lôcus lôcî (*lôassî)
lôaf lôaves
mán mén
mánservant ménservants
mêdium mêdia, mêdiums[8]
mòuse mîce
nébula nébulaê, nébulas
nûclêus nûclêî
ôvum ôva eggs (= BrE ôver above, finished)
óx óxen
pénny pénce amount, pénnies coins
përson pêople (pêep-) everyday, përsons formal
phenómenon phenómena
pláteau (*plátô) pláteaux (*plátôz; in both, the second syllable is stressed in AmE)
potâto potâtoes
qùantum qùanta
râdius râdìî
scàrf scàrves
schêma schemàta[9] (both sk-)
sélf sélves
séraph séraphìm
shêaf shêaves
stímulus stímulî
BrE stràtum, AmE strâtum BrE stràta, AmE strâta (= BrE strâighter)
sympôsium sympôsia
tábleau (*táblô) tábleaux (*táblôz)
témpo témpì, témpos
tërminus tërminî
thìêf thìêves
thêsis thêsês (-sêez)
BrE tomàto, AmE tomâto BrE tomàtoes, AmE tomâtoes
toôth têeth
torpêdo torpêdoes
vërtebra vërtebraê
vêto vêtoes
vïrtuôso vïrtuôsì (both -ûôss-)
vŏrtex vŏrticês (-íssêez)
wîfe wîves
wolf (= Woòlf person) wolves (*wùlvz)
woman (wù-) women (wí-)

Notes

  1. This does not apply to proper nouns: Thére are thrêe Mãrys and tŵo Marìes ín the clāss shows the plurals of Mãry and Marìe respectively.
  2. In correct Latin usage, the -a plural can be used only when the word is used in the sense of the question to be asked, not the process of asking.
  3. Use of físhes.
  4. Less common are the feminine forms alùmna singular, alùmnae plural.
  5. The King James Bible uses the double plural form chérubims, but this is now obsolete.
  6. gênìî is used by some as the plural of gênius, but this usage is frowned on by others—which may even extend to its use as a plural of gênie. Though when gênius is used in its original, technical sense, a sort of guardian spirit in ancient Roman mythology, gênii is the correct plural. Other spellings: singular djínni/jínni/jínnee, plural djínn/jínn. Such spellings, closer to the original Arabic, are more often used when the meaning intended is closer to the original meanings in Arab folklore and Islamic theology, rather than wider folklore.
  7. roôfs can have a similar pronunciation, but not spelling; yoûth also is unvoiced in the singular but voiced in the plural.
  8. mêdia always when referring to newspapers etc., mêdiums for spiritualists.
  9. Less commonly, lemmàta can be plural of lémma.
  • The accents show stress and pronunciation (see English spellings): A: sát, mâde, pàrk, cāst (cást/càst), åll, ãir; E: ére, êar, vèin, fërn; I: sít, mîne, skì, bïrd; O: sóng, môde, lòve, wörd, ŏr; OO: moôn, foòt; U: sún, mûse, fùll, pürr; W: neŵ, ẁant; Y: gým, mŷ, keỳ, mÿrrh.