Singular & Plural Number in English – Rules, Uses & Examples


Singular number and the plural number in English are explained along with definition, types, a lot of examples, rules.

In this post, we are going to look at the rules and usage of numbers in English along with their suitable examples.

Let’s get started.

What is Number in English? Singular & Plural

Number in English

Number in the English Language is an essential grammatical element.

It helps us determine the number of,

  • nouns,
  • pronouns,
  • verbs, and
  • other determiners.

Types of Numbers in English

Usually, in English, there are two types of numbers;

  • Singular numbers and
  • Plural numbers.

Well, to put it simply, singular indicates the single quantity of something.

Like for example,

  • A cat – it means only one no. of cat.
  • On the other hand, plural indicates more than one or many, like many cats.

Like for example,

  • a team of football players.

This concept can be applied to nouns, pronouns, verbs, and other determiners. It helps us understand the quantity of any element that is being referred to.

Now, one can also change the singular form to the plural form as per requirement.

Like for example,

  • A cow being singular will become cows in the plural.

Singular & Plural Numbers Example

Some other examples of this sort can be:

Numbers Example for Noun

Singular:

  • Dog,
  • mouse.

Plural:

  • Dogs,
  • mice.

Numbers Example for Pronoun

Singular:

  • I,
  • you,
  • me,
  • he,
  • she,
  • him,
  • her 
  • it.

Plural:

  • Us,
  • them,
  • we,
  • you,
  • they.

Numbers Example for Verb

Singular:

  • I am,
  • he is,
  • she was.

Plural:

  • You are,
  • they were,
  • they have.

Numbers Example for Determiner

Singular:

  • A,
  • an,
  • my,
  • your,
  • this,
  • that,
  • his,
  • her.

Plural:

  • These,
  • those,
  • your,
  • our,
  • their.

However, as you can see, just using an ‘s’ after the singular noun will not always make the singular noun into a plural one. There are some other suffixes and rules as well that one has to learn.

Below I am listing all these rules one by one.

Check worksheets for Number in English for practice.

Rules to Change from Singular to Plural Number

The First Rule

We can use ‘s’ at the end of the singular nouns to make them plural. This is one of the most common and frequently used techniques to make nouns plural.

Some examples can be:

  • Dog – Dogs
  • Cat – Cats
  • Pencil – Pencils
  • Ball – Balls
  • Book – Books
  • Pen – Pens

The Second Rule

There are words that end with suffixes like s, sh, ch, x, and z. For these words, we need to use “es” to make them plural.

Some examples of this type can be:

  • Branch – Branches
  • Bus – Buses
  • Dish – Dishes
  • Ash – Ashes
  • Fox – Foxes

The Third Rule

There are some unique words where we need to change the vowel in the middle to make them plural.

For example,

  • Mouse – Mice
  • Foot – Feet
  • Woman – Women
  • Man – Men
  • Tooth – Teeth

The Fourth Rule

Usually, if there is a word that ends with ‘ch’, but the sound it carries is much more like ‘K’, all you need to do is add an ‘s’ in the end to make them plural.

For example,

  • Matriarch – Matriarchs
  • Patriarch – Patriarchs
  • Hierarch – Hierarchs
  • Stomach – Stomachs
  • Monarch – Monarchs

The Fifth Rule

If we have words where it ends with a ‘y’ and has consonant before that, an ‘I’ will substitute the ‘y’, and “es” will be added to make it plural.

Some examples can be:

  • Army – Armies
  • Baby – Babies
  • Hobby – Hobbies
  • Story – Stories
  • Fly – Flies

The Sixth Rule

The words that end with ‘f’ or “fe”, will be replaced by ‘v’, and “es” will be added to make them plural.

Some examples can be:

  • Knife – Knives
  • Wife – Wives
  • Leaf – Leaves
  • Thief – Thieves
  • Wolf – Wolves

The Seventh Rule

If a word ends with ‘y’ but instead of a consonant, there is a vowel, behind it then we can only add an ‘s’ to make them plural.

Some examples can be:

  • Toy – Toys
  • Joy – Joys
  • Play – Plays
  • Day – Days

The Eighth Rule

If a noun ends with ‘o”, “es” can be added to make them plural. This works when there is a consonant before the ‘o’.

Like for example,

  • Zero – Zeroes
  • Hero – Heroes
  • Potato – Potatoes
  • Mango – Mangoes

However, if there is a vowel before the ‘o’, we can only add ‘s’ to make them plural.

Example,

  • Studio – Studios
  • Bamboo – Bamboos
  • Cameo – Cameos
  • Portfolio – Portfolios

Also, there are some exceptions to these rules as well. There are a few words where these rules will not be used to make them plural.

For example,

  • Piano – Pianos
  • Photo – Photos
  • Canto – Cantos
  • Portico – Porticos/porticoes
  • Mosquito – Mosquitos/mosquitoes
  • Memento – Mementos/mementoes

The Ninth Rule

To make some words plural, you will have to use suffixes like en, ren, and ne.

Example,

  • Ox – Oxen
  • Child – Children

The Tenth Rule

If the word ends with “ful”, we can add “s” to make it plural.

Example,

  • Mouthful – mouthfuls
  • Spoonful – Spoonfuls
  • Cupful – cupfuls
  • Handful – Handfuls

The Eleventh Rule

For compound nouns, adding an “s” can help you turn them into plurals. This is feasible for a variety of scenarios. Let’s look at a few examples to understand them better.

Example,

  • Passers-by – Passers-by
  • Commander-in-chief – Commanders-in-chief
  • Maid-servant – Maid-servants
  • Step-brother – Step-brothers

But that’s not all; some other examples can be

  • Man-servant – Men-servants
  • Woman-servant – Women-servants
  • Major-general – Major-generals
  • Book-case – Book-cases
  • Poet-laurete – Poet-lauretes
  • Book-shelf – Book-shelves

The Twelfth Rule

There are a few singular nouns that do not have any plural and always need to be used in the singular sense. Similarly, there are nouns that always need to be used in the plural sense.

For example,

  • Bread
  • Issue
  • Scenery
  • Expenditure
  • Furniture

On the other hand

  • Trousers
  • Scissors
  • Mumps
  • Spectacles
  • Assets

The Thirteenth Rule

There are a few words that seem like singular nouns, but in reality, they are plurals. On the other hand, a few nouns seem like plural nouns but are actually singular nouns.

Example,

  • Peasantry
  • Government
  • People
  • Cattle
  • Mankind

On the other hand

  • Politics
  • Ethics
  • Wages
  • Physics

Conclusion

So, there you have it, all the rules regarding the use of English numbers. Should you have any further queries regarding this topic, please feel free to mention them in the comments below.

Study Windows

Hello Friends! We are really happy to present you with various interesting articles to have core concepts in various subjects. Cheers!

Recent Posts