Tomatoes or Tomatos?

Some say tomāto, some say tomăto, but when there is more than one, everyone has to add –es to make it plural. The English words tomato and potato are sometimes mistakenly made plural by simply adding an –s. But these two words, along with a few others, need –es in the plural. This is the complete list:

  • echoes
  • embargoes
  • heroes
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • torpedoes
  • vetoes

Most words that end in –o are pluralized by simply adding –s. This includes all words that end in vowel + o:

  • embryos
  • patios
  • radios
  • studios
  • zoos

And all shortened words:

  • autos (automobiles)
  • discos (discothèques)
  • kilos (kilograms)
  • memos (memorandums)
  • photos (photographs)
  • typos (typographical errors)

And proper names:

  • Eskimos
  • Filipinos
  • Picassos
  • Romeos

And many other words, including:

  • avocados
  • casinos
  • cellos
  • hairdos
  • kimonos
  • logos
  • pianos
  • silos
  • solos
  • stilettos
  • tacos
  • torsos

Many of these words were borrowed from other languages, notably Spanish and Italian. Interestingly, the words potato and tomato came into English via Spanish but need –es in the plural.

Also note that quite a few words can be spelled either way, including

  • banjos / banjoes
  • buffalos / buffaloes
  • cargos / cargoes
  • dominos / dominoes
  • ghettos / ghettoes
  • halos / haloes
  • innuendos / innuendoes
  • mangos / mangoes
  • mosquitos / mosquitoes
  • mottos / mottoes
  • tornados / tornadoes
  • volcanos / volcanoes
  • zeros / zeroes

5 Responses

  1. egc52556 22 July 2014 / 15:44

    I don’t doubt your right, but what’s the reason behind these spellings? I’m sure I will continue to misspell these if the only way to get these right is by memorization.


  2. lkl 1 August 2014 / 08:08

    Good question – I don’t know. It might have something to do with which language each word evolved from.

    “I don’t doubt your you’re right” 🙂

  3. ed 1 February 2015 / 03:10

    Why not just drop the all the “e”s in the “es”s and simplify everything??? Instead of just causing pointless confusion….

  4. Lacie 8 April 2015 / 15:33

    This post is mostly incorrect. The plural form of tomato is tomatos and the plural form of potato is potatos because they are nouns. The -es suffix is designated for verbs. The -s suffix is designated for nouns. A person may find video of a first grade student correcting the Vice President of the United States on this very issue.

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