Nouns

A noun refers to a person, place, or thing. Here are examples of nouns.

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person   place   thing
Robert church assistance
doctor Moscow Islam
aunt jupiter chair

A noun can be singular or plural. A singular noun is one of something and a plural noun is two or more.

In English, the general rule is that the plural form of most nouns is formed by adding –s to the singular form.

singular   plural
book books
idea ideas
toy toys
village villages
choice choices

Exceptions: Nouns ending in –s, x, –sh, or –ch form the plural by adding –es.

singular   plural
lens lenses
kiss kisses
tax taxes
dish dishes
church churches

Attention, –es adds another syllable to the noun. For example, the word book and its plural books each have one syllable. But the word dish has one syllable but the plural dishes has two syllables.

These are the sounds that appear at the end of a noun that when –s or –es is added another syllable is also added. Note that the singular noun sometimes ends in a consonant and other times it ends in –e. See the lesson on syllables to learn more.

IPA*   word final sound   extra syllable added
dish dish路es
mi路rage mi路rag路es
Z size siz路es
peach peach路es
vil路lage vil路ag路es
S in路fer路ence in路fer路enc路es

*IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet)

Singular nouns ending in –y preceded by a consonant require changing the –y to –i and adding –es. This formula does not add another syllable to the noun.

singular   plural
city cities
fly flies
itinerary itineraries

Note that nouns ending in –y preceded by a vowel form the plural by adding –s, like the general rule.

singular   plural
toy toys
essay essays
holiday holidays

Singular nouns ending in –o preceded by a consonant generally form the plural by adding –es. The number of syllables does not change.

singular   plural
hero heroes
potato potatoes
zero zeroes

Some spelling exceptions.

singular   plural
halo halos
kilo kilos
piano pianos

To see a complete list of nouns ending in –o and how to make them plural, see the lesson on pluralizing -o words.

Singular nouns ending in –f or –fe generally form the plural by changing the –f to –v and adding es. The number of syllables does not change.

singular   plural
leaf leaves
thief thieves
knife knives
wife wives

Nouns that have a word internal –oo often become –ee in the plural.

singular   plural
tooth teeth
foot feet
goose geese

Nouns that end in –us become plural by changing to –i.

singular   plural
cactus cacti
radius radii
focus foci

Finally, here are three important irregular plurals.

singular   plural
child children
woman women
man men

Quiz: Singular and plural nouns

Related lessons:

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