Certain words don’t follow the general plural noun rules, which are adding an –s or –es at the end of the noun, and these are called irregular plural nouns. Making them plural requires knowing a specific spelling rule that will help you change them from singular to plural.
It may sound a bit overwhelming, but we will tell you how they work to make things easier for you.
Rules to change irregular plural nouns from singular to plural
Here are the most common spelling rules for irregular nouns:
Irregular nouns with –f or –fe endings
Nouns such as leaf, knife, calf, wife, and life make their plural by changing their –f or –fe ending to –ves. To make things easier for you, remember that –f becomes –v and then you just add the common plural noun ending –es.
Wife – wives
Leaf – leaves
Irregular nouns with –o ending
To make plural from nouns ending in –o such as torpedo, veto, potato, and tomato, you just need to add –es without changing anything.
Torpedo – torpedoes
Tomato – tomatoes
Irregular nouns with –is ending
To change these nouns from singular to plural, change –is to –es:
Crisis – crises
Oasis – oases
Irregular nouns that change their vowels
If the singular noun is man, the plural is men. Rings a bell? Well, this is not the only irregular noun that has to change its vowels to form the plural. These nouns change an to en, or oo to ee.
Tooth – teeth
Woman – women
Irregular nouns: examples for words that change considerably
Here are some of the most common nouns that change in spelling drastically when made plural:
Child – children
Mouse – mice
Person – people
Ox – oxen
Die – dice
Irregular nouns that stay the same
Sheep is a common but not the only irregular plural noun that has the same spelling for both singular and plural.
Deer – deer
Fish – fish
Irregular nouns ending in –us
Even though there aren’t many nouns with this ending, it’s still good to know how to make them plural. You just have to use –i instead of –us.
Nucleus - nuclei
Fungus – fungi