Irregular Noun Plurals

While we usually add the suffix s/es/ies to turn nouns into plural, there are some exceptions to these rules.

In this article, we will give examples of the rules for the irregular plural nouns.

1. Singular Nouns Ending with f/fe

Some nouns ending with f, fe, drop this ending and add ves to make the plural form. There may be alternative spelling.

  • Yes : a knife – knives, one half – two halves, my life – their lives, a wolf – wolves.
  • No : one roof – roofs, a cliff – many cliffs, a safe – safes
  • Both : a dwarf – the seven dwarfs/ dwarves, one wharf – a few wharfs/ wharves

2. Unique Old English Plural Nouns

These nouns have unique plural forms that survived from Old English. Learn them well according to the following groups, as they are in common use.

  • a man – men
  • a woman – women
  • (Plural pronounced /wimen/)
  • a person -- people     a foot – feet
  • a goose – geese
  • a tooth – teeth
  • a child – children
  • an ox – oxen (castrated bulls)
  • a brother – brethren (in church orders), brothers (in a family)     a mouse – mice
  • a louse – lice
  • a die – dice (for playing games)

3. One Form for Singular & Plural

Many nouns have identical forms for both singular and plural.

  • a sheep – sheep, a deer – deer, a moose – moose
  • a fish – fish (fishes, if used for different species of fish)
  • a dozen – two dozen roses, a hundred – several hundred men (but: dozens of roses, hundreds of people)