Noun Plurals

The usual way to indicate a plural noun in English is to add the letter s:
one girl
two girls

one picture
two pictures

Note: a frequent error is that of adding an s to a compound word that contains “man” or “men.”

Incorrect: All of the salesmens attended the meeting.

Correct: All of the salesmen attended the meeting.

Some of the oldest English nouns form their plurals by changing a letter inside the word:
one man, two men
one mouse, two mice
one goose, two geese

Some English nouns have the same spelling for singular and plural:
He shot a moose.
We saw six moose that day.

The campers cooked one fish.
They took home ten fish.

Bambi is a deer.
Twenty deer gathered in the meadow.

Note: in some old expressions you will see or hear the plural fishes:

But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. Luke 9,13 KJV

This plural for fish is archaic (used in the past, but no longer considered standard). A modern writer might choose to use it in order to create an old-fashioned or folksy effect.

2 Responses

  1. Maeve,

    Very good. Thank you.

    I wonder if there is an exception made to the plural of mouse when referring to more than one computer mouse. Somehow computer mice just doesn’t ring right, where, computer mouses does.

    Many ESL speakers have trouble with American English nouns, such as, “stock” and “field,” when referring to stock or field in commerce; e.g., “We have plenty of x in stock,” or “I am going to work in the field this afternoon.” Many ESL speakers want to say, “We have plenty stocks of x,” or “I am going to work in the fields this afternoon.”

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