Appendix:English irregular nouns

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The table below lists English words that have irregular plurals.

Rules[edit]

Not included are words that follow any of the following rules:

  1. Words that add -s, which are regular plurals
  2. Words that end in -ch, -o, -s, -sh, -x, -z
  3. Symbols or letters, which often add -'s
  4. Words that are invariant in the plural (eg, deer, series)
  5. Words from Latin that end in -a change -a to -ae (eg, formula becomes formulae in the mathematical and chemical senses)
  6. Words from Latin that end in -ex change -ex to -ices (eg, vortex becomes vortices)
  7. Words that end in -f or -fe change -f or -fe to -ves (eg, calf becomes calves; knife becomes knives)
  8. Words that end in -ful that add an s after the -ful (eg, spoonful becomes spoonfuls; note that spoonsful is incorrect)
  9. Words from Latin that end in -is change -is to -es (eg, thesis becomes theses)
  10. Words from Latin that end in -ix change -ix to -ices (eg, matrix becomes matrices)
  11. Words from Greek that end in -ma change -ma to -mata (eg, stigma becomes stigmata in all senses but the sense of "disgrace")
  12. Words from Latin that end in -nx change -nx to -nges (eg, meninx becomes meninges)
  13. Words from Greek that end in -on change -on to -a (eg, polyhedron becomes polyhedra)
  14. Words that end in -s or -ese denoting a national of a particular country (eg, Swiss and Chinese)
  15. Words from French that end in -u add an x (eg, château becomes châteaux)
  16. Words from Latin that end in -um change -um to -a (eg, minimum becomes minima)
  17. Words from Latin that end in -us change -us to -i or -era (eg, radius becomes radii; genus becomes genera; but note octopus is different)
  18. Words that end in -y preceded by a consonant change -y to -ies (eg, baby becomes babies)
  19. Words from Hebrew that add -im or -ot (eg, cherub becomes cherubim)

Source: Wikipedia article on English plurals, which you can see for much more information.

Some of words of foreign origin that have the endings above can form or always form their plurals regularly. The list above should therefore be considered as a guide only. See particular words to determine their plurals.

Umlaut[edit]

The following plurals exhibit umlaut, meaning that they are inflected by changing the vowel, as in man/men. Compare sing/sang/sung for umlaut in verb inflection.

Singular Plural Notes
die
dice
in the sense of a numbered cube used in games.
foot
feet
The plural foot is used colloquially in the sense of the unit of distance
goose
geese
The plural of mongoose is mongooses
louse
lice
Also for the names of animals ending in -louse, such as woodlouse, which becomes woodlice
man
men
Also for nouns ending in -man in the sense of a particular type of man, such as postman or Frenchman; words ending in -man that have another origin are regular (eg, ataman becomes atamans; shaman becomes shamans)
mouse
mice
Also applies to the names of other animals that end in -mouse, such as dormouse and titmouse, which become dormice and titmice respectively; the plural mouses is sometimes used for the computer peripheral
tooth
teeth
Also for nouns ending in -tooth, such as eyetooth, which becomes eyeteeth
woman
women
Also for nouns ending in -woman in the sense of a particular type of woman, such as policewoman or Englishwoman

Weak noun[edit]

The following plurals are relics of Old English weak noun inflection, where the plural was formed by suffixing -an/-ena/-um, depending on case, which yields the -en ending.

“oxen” is ox-en, while “children” is in fact a double plural: “cild-ru-en”, where -ru is a strong noun plural, and -en is a weak noun plural.

boxen and Vaxen are humorous computing slang formed by the same rule.

Singular Plural Notes
child
children
Also for nouns ending in -child in the sense of a particular type of child, such as schoolchild
ox
oxen
Also applies to the names of other animals that end in ox, such as musk-ox

Suppletive[edit]

A suppletive plural is a plural whose root is different from the root of the singular, i.e., not from the same underlying word.

Singular Plural Notes
person
people
Also for nouns ending in -person, such as chairperson, which becomes chairpeople. In formal contexts, the plural is persons (and similarly for nouns ending in -person); people is also a singular noun in the sense of a community of people

Other[edit]

“pence” is a contraction of “pennies”, collective plural of “penny”.

Singular Plural Notes
penny
pence
Also for multiples of a penny, such as sixpence. Pence, a British usage, is used only the sense of an amount of money; in the sense of a number of coins worth a penny each, the plural is pennies

See also[edit]

Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia