Definition: Singular means only one. Plural means more than one.

In order to make a noun plural, it is usually only necessary to add s. However, there are many irregular nouns that add es. The rules for spelling plural nouns are based on the letters at the end of the word. The chart below breaks up the rules into categories so that they are easier to remember.

Most nounsAdd s to form the plural.cat ⇒ cats
truck ⇒ trucks
bug ⇒ bugs
Nouns that end in sshxch, or zAdd es to form the plural. For words that end in z, add an extra z before the es.Hint:It is too hard to pronounce the words without the e. Try it – buss, brushs, foxs… You sound like a snake!bus ⇒ buses
brush ⇒ brushes
fox ⇒ foxes
beach ⇒ beaches
quiz ⇒ quizzes
Nouns ending in f or feSome nouns ending in f or fe just add s. Sometimes it is necessary to change the f to a v. In that case, always end the word with es.

Hint :
Check a dictionary if you are unsure which rule a noun follows.
roof ⇒ roofs
safe ⇒ safes
shelf ⇒ shelves
wife ⇒ wives

Nouns that end in vowel + yAdd s to form the plural.donkey ⇒ donkeys
highway ⇒ highways
Nouns that end in vowel + oAdd s to form the plural.oreo ⇒ oreos
scenario ⇒ scenarios
Nouns that end in consonant + yChange the y to i and add es to form the plural.family ⇒ families
trophy ⇒ trophies
Nouns that end in consonant + oEasy rule:
Usually add es except for musical terms.

Complicated rule:
Some nouns that end in consonant + o add es. Many can be spelled either way. Look in the dictionary if you want to be sure.

These nouns always add es: potato, tomato, hero, echo, banjo, embargo, veto, torpedo.

Here are the preferred spellings of some plural nouns: buffaloes, dominoes, mosquitoes, volcanoes, tornadoes, ghettos, mangos, mottos, cargos, halos, mementos.
Regular examples:
potato ⇒ potatoes
dingo ⇒ dingoes
piano ⇒ pianos
soprano ⇒ sopranos

The chart below explains some exceptions to the rules.

Words from foreign languages, including musical termsSimply add s.taco ⇒ tacos
kimono ⇒ kimonos
aria ⇒ arias
Words that are proper nounsSimply add s.Eskimo ⇒ Eskimos
Picasso ⇒ Picassos
Words that are short forms of longer wordsSimply add s.photo (photograph) ⇒ photos
kilo (kilogram) ⇒ kilos
memo (memorandum) ⇒ memos
Hint: If a musical term or proper noun ends in s still add es.chorus ⇒ choruses
Jones ⇒ Joneses


Are you confused yet? The easiest way to handle the plural nouns in this lesson is to remember a few shortcuts:

  • Memorize the short list of words that must end in es.
  • Add es to words that end in consonant + o.
  • For words that end in consonant + y, change y to i and add es.
  • Remember that foreign words usually end in s, not es.