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Singular and Plural Nouns

What is a Noun?
A Noun is the name of a person, place or thing. A noun can be singular or plural.

Singular Noun refers to one person, place or thing.

        Examples:  A bird is flying near the banks of the river.
                           I bought a toy for him.

Plural Noun refers to more than one person, place or thing.

        Examples: Two boys were selected for the swimming competition.
                          The flowers in the garden are all bloomed.


Rules of Singular and Plural Nouns

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Certain spelling rules that are to be followed while forming the plural nouns are
  • Most of the plural nouns are formed by adding a simple’s’ to the noun.

        Singular                   Plural          
 Brick  Bricks
 Chocolate   Chocolates 
 Actor  Actors
 Machine  Machines
 River  Rivers

  • Some of the nouns that end with "ch, x, s, or s like sounds (sh,z)" take the plural form by adding '-es' to the noun.

        Singular                    Plural         
 Church  Churches 
 Wax  Waxes
 Class  Classes
 Bush  Bushes
 Buzz  Buzzes

  • Nouns that normally end with 'y' or 'o' do not follow a definite rule to take its plural form.

  If a noun ending with 'y' is preceded by a consonant then the plural form of the noun is formed by dropping the 'y' and adding '-     ies'  to the noun.

  But if the noun ending with ‘y’ is preceded by a vowel, then the plural form is formed by adding a simple’s’ to it.

           Singular                     Plural                 Preceded  by      
 Spy  Spies  Consonant ‘p’ 
 Theory  Theories   Consonant ‘r’
 Rally  Rallies  Consonant ‘l’
 Monkey  Monkeys   Vowel ‘e’
 Boy  Boys  Vowel ‘o’
 Holiday  Holidays  Vowel ‘a’

 If the noun ends with 'o' and it also takes precedence with a consonant then the plural form is formed by adding '-es' to the noun.      
 If the noun ending with o' is preceded by a vowel, then the plural form is formed by adding a simple’s’ to it.

          Singular                     Plural                   Preceded  by     
 Tomato  Tomatoes   Consonant ‘t’ 
 Cargo  Cargoes  Consonant ‘g’
 Hero  Heroes  Consonant ‘r’
 Radio  Radios  Vowel ‘i’
 Video  Videos  Vowel ‘e’
 Bamboo  Bamboos  Vowel ‘o’

** Exceptions:  Photo – Photos, Piano – Pianos, Kilo – Kilos.   
  • Some nouns have the same form for both singular and plural formations.

          Singular                    Plural          
 Sheep    Sheep  
 Deer  Deer
 Scissors   Scissors 
 Fish  Fish
 Species  Species 

Examples of Singular and Plural Nouns

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Some of the nouns look like plural (ends with‘s’) but they are not plurals. They take the singular verb.

        Examples: Learning Mathematics needs more concentration.
                         The news today is more focused on Economical crisis of the country.
                         Billiards is played worldwide by millions of people.

  • Certain Nouns always take singular verb form.
         Examples: Information, Knowledge, advice, furniture, courage.
                          The information is kept secret.
                          Knowledge is wealth.
                          The furniture in the palace has been auctioned.

  • Certain Nouns take plural form of verb.
          Examples: Premises, Riches, Headquarters, Contents, Stairs, Scissors, Glasses, Arms,
                            Outskirts, Clothes, Remains, Goggles, Spectacles

                            My new goggles are costlier than my old ones.
                            The college premises were kept clean by the students.
                            The scissors are very sharp.

  • Some nouns ending with’s’ have different meanings in singular and plural form. 
           Examples: Arm - Arms, Good - Goods, Cloth - Clothes, Hair - Hairs, Custom - Customs.

                            The railway arms are missing. (Arms – Weaponry)
                            My arm is painful to touch. (Arm – Limb)

                            The stolen goods were restored by the police. (Goods – Belongings)
                            Being good is not as easy as it looks. (Good – Pleasant)

                            The custom followed by the tribal is difficult to follow. (Custom – Practices)
                            The customs are examining the ship for a smuggled container. (Customs – Excise Officers)

  • Some of the plurals are formed using irregular patterns. They are called as Irregular Nouns. These have to be memorized as it doesn’t follow any general basic grammar rules. These irregular plurals are sometimes called as "Mutated (or mutating) Plurals".

         Singular                   Plural         
 Goose  Geese
 Woman  Women 
 Louse  Lice
 Foot  Feet
 Child  Children 

  • Some of the nouns do not change their Greek and Latin forms while taking its plural.

         Singular                    Plural           
 Datum  Data
 Locus  Loci
 Hypothesis   Hypotheses
 Nebula  Nebulae
 Phenomenon   Phenomena 

  • Nouns that end with 'f' or 'fe' takes the plural form by changing 'f' to 'v' and adding '-es'

          Singular                    Plural          
 Life  Lives
 Elf  Elves
 Sheaf  Sheaves 
 Leaf  Leaves
 Calf  Calves

But however this rule has some exceptions. Here the plural is formed by just adding a ‘-s’.

          Singular                   Plural           
 Proof  Proofs 
 Cliff  Cliffs
 Safe  Safes

  • Collective Nouns take both singular and plural forms.  When the collective noun acts as a group, it takes the singular form.  When the noun is considered as individual acting within the group, then it takes the plural form.
          Example:  The jury has convened exactly at 9 A.M. (Singular – as a group)
                           The juries have changed their decision on producing the evidence. (Plural – as Individuals)

                           The family has decided to move for San Francisco. (Singular – as a group)
                           The families have different opinions about their party outfits. (Plural – as Individuals)

                           The orchestra performs today in Los Angeles. (Singular – as a group)
                           The orchestras are fine-tuning their instruments for their performance. (Plural – as Individuals)

** However these collective nouns are generally used for singular forms of verb and for plural forms terms like ‘members of the family / committee / board / etc are used.

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