What are regular and irregular plural nouns?

Regular plural nouns are the group which most nouns fall under. These words can be turned from singular to plural by adding a suffix such as -es or -s to the end. These are just a few examples of regular plurals:

  • Apple becomes ‘apples.’
  • Potato becomes ‘potatoes.’
  • The party becomes ‘parties.’

There are a few rules to follow with regular plurals, but generally speaking, you can figure out what suffix a noun needs by looking at the word ending. For example, words that end with a vowel followed by a ‘y’, such as ‘day,’ end with the suffix -s.

Irregular plural nouns are where things start to get complicated. These rulebreakers don’t follow the same spelling conventions as regular plurals and don’t become plural by adding a -s or -es suffix. So, for example, the plural for the word leaf is ‘leaves,’ not ‘leaves.’

Here’s the bad news; there’s no simple way to irregular plurals. The only way to learn many of these nouns is to memorize them. The good news is that irregular plural nouns fall into several groups. Knowing these groups will help make learning irregular plural nouns more manageable.

Unchanging Nouns:

Let’s start with the most specific group of irregular plurals that don’t change. Unchanging nouns are words where the spelling of their singular form is the same as its plural form. They’re often used in nouns that refer to animals and fish. Some examples of these are:

  • Fish
  • Sheep
  • Rice
  • Aircraft
  • Pajamas
  • Series
  • Trout
  • Tuna

Nouns with changing vowels:

Occasionally, irregular plural nouns keep the exact spelling, except one or all vowels are swapped. Here are just a few examples:

  • Tooth – teeth
  • Man – men
  • Woman – women
  • Foot – feet
  • Oasis – oases
  • Goose – geese

Nouns that break standard spelling rules:

Lastly, there are irregular plurals that don’t follow the same spelling conventions as a lot of other nouns. A lot of different words fall under this category. Here are a few examples that pupils might be likely to come across in day-to-day use:

  • Mouse -mice
  • Loaf – loaves
  • Child – children
  • Wolf – wolves
  • Person – people
  • Thief – thieves
  • Scarf – scarves
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