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The Plurals Spelling Rule

Plural Noun Forms

The Plural Spelling Rule

Changing singular nouns to plural nouns? It’s all about the endings. In English, the last letters or sounds of single common nouns (ideas, persons, places, or things) determine how we change those nouns into plurals.

The Plurals Spelling Rule

Spell plural nouns with an s (dog-dogs), even those that end in y (day-days) or those that end in a vowel, then an o (stereo-stereos). Spell “es” after the sounds of /s/, /x/, /z/, /ch/, or /sh/ (box-boxes) or after a consonant, then an o (potato-potatoes). Change the y to i and add “es” when the word ends in a consonant, then a y (ferry-ferries). Change the “fe” or “lf” ending to “ves” (knife-knives, shelf-shelves).


  • Collective nouns are plurals by nature. Examples: people, committee
  • Unchanging nouns are the same in both singular and plural forms. Examples: deer, fish
  • Singular Latin nouns ending in “us” change the “us” to “i” for plurals. Examples: syllabus-syllabi, cactus-cacti
  • Singular Latin nouns ending in “um” change the “um” to “a” for plurals. Examples: curriculum-curricula, datum-data
  • Singular Latin nouns ending in “ix” or “ex” change the “ix” or “ex” to “i” for plurals. Examples: matrix-matrices, index-indices
  • Singular Latin nouns ending in “is” change the “is” to “es” for plurals. Examples: analysis-analyses, crises-crises
  • Plus many commonly used nouns… Examples: man-men, child-children

Check out the song! The Plurals Rule

Plural Lambs

(to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

1. If there is a vowel before the letters o or y,

Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.

“Add an s onto the end and to most nouns,” said I.

Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow.

2. If there is a consonant before the o or y,

And everywhere that Mary went, Mary went, Mary went.

“Add “e-s” onto the end, but change the y to i.”

Everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.

3. “Add “e-s” onto an xto /ch/, /sh/, /s/, or z.

It followed her to school one day, school one day, school one day.

Also add onto an f, but change the f to v.”

It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.


Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

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