Level I


Grouping Nouns. Nouns name persons, places, things, qualities, concepts, and activities. Here are four ways to group nouns:


Concrete Nouns Abstract Nouns

water loyalty

tangerine aspiration

telephone ethics


Common Nouns Proper Nouns

roller coaster The Giant Dipper

dog German shepherd

printer Hewlett-Packard



Forming Plural Nouns. Plural nouns name two or more things. Most plural nouns (regular nouns) form the plural with the addition of s or es.


Add s


office, offices boat, boats

Harper, Harpers Avila, Avilas*


Add es to nouns ending in s, x, z, ch, or sh


loss, losses bench, benches

fax, faxes Lopez, Lopezes*


*Most proper nouns are made plural just as common nouns are.

A few plural nouns change form:


man, men foot, feet

mouse, mice child, children


Try Your Skill


How would you make these nouns plural?


house Sanchez

tax workman

Bush coin

woman virus

mouse Guffey












KEY: houses, taxes, Bushes, women, mice [but computer mouses], Sanchezes, workmen, coins, viruses, Guffeys



Level II




Nouns Ending in y

When y is preceded by a vowel (a, e, i, o, u),
add s only.


valley, valleys attorney, attorneys

journey, journeys Garvey, Garveys


When y is preceded by a consonant, change
the y to ies.


luxury, luxuries company, companies

baby, babies secretary, secretaries


BUT: Kelly, Kellys (Do not change the spelling

of proper nouns. Just add s or es to make
proper nouns plural.)



Nouns Ending in f or fe

No standard rule is followed. Study these

examples and use a dictionary when in doubt.


Add s Change to ves

cliff, cliffs wife, wives

safe, safes shelf, shelves

Wolf, Wolfs wolf, wolves

Nouns Ending in o

When o is preceded by a vowel, add s only.

studio, studios curio, curios


When o is preceded by a consonant, no
standard rule applies. Add s or es.


Add s Add es

auto, autos veto, vetoes

solo, solos potato, potatoes


Musical terms ending in o are always made
plural by adding s only.


alto, altos piano, pianos

banjo, banjos soprano, sopranos


Compound Nouns

If a compound noun is written as a single
word, make the final element plural.


workman, workmen

toothbrush, toothbrushes

bookshelf, bookshelves


If the compound noun is hyphenated or written
as separate words, make the principal word


mother-in-law, mothers-in-law

runner-up, runners-up

editor in chief, editors in chief

Numerals, Alphabet Letters, Isolated Words, and

Generally, add s only. The current trend is to
use s only for clarity.


2000s M.D.s

pros and cons Bs and Cs


Isolated lowercase letters and the capital
letters A, I, M, and U require s for clarity.


Dot your is and cross your ts.

She received all As last semester.



Usually add s to the singular form.


yr., yrs. c.o.d., c.o.d.s

wk., wks. no., nos.



Try Your Skill


How would you make the following words plural?


copy CPA

Sunday 1970

knife p and q

editor in chief attorney general


KEY: copies, Sundays, knives, editors in chief, CPAs, 1970s, ps and qs, attorneys general

Level III


Foreign Nouns

Nouns derived from foreign languages may
retain a foreign plural form, or they may have
an Americanized form.


Singular Plural

analysis analyses

basis bases

criterion criteria or criterions

millennium millennia or millenniums

alumnus alumni (masculine)

alumna alumnae (feminine)

datum* data

formula formulae or formulas

stimulus stimuli


*Through frequent usage, the word data is now
considered either singular or plural.



Personal Titles

Personal titles may have formal or informal plural forms.


Informal Formal

Mr. Lee and Mr. Song Messrs. Lee and Song

Ms. Yu and Ms. Smith Mses. Yu and Smith

Mrs. Cohn and Mrs. Dun Mmes. Cohn and Dun

the Miss Deans The Misses Deans


Special Nouns

Some special nouns are only singular or
plural in meaning. Other special nouns may be
considered either singular or plural in meaning.


Usually Usually May be Singular

Singular Plural or Plural

billiards clothes Chinese

economics goods corps

genetics pliers deer

kudos scissors fish

mathematics statistics politics

measles tongs series

mumps thanks sheep

news trousers species




Try Your Skill


How would you make the following words plural?


bacterium crisis

headquarters hypothesis

memorandum moose






KEY: bacteria, headquarters, memoranda or memorandums, crises, hypotheses, moose