Introduction to basic plurals

Your child's first encounter with plurals will come when they are introduced to the concept of there being one of something, or more than one of something. 

Often, just add 's'

For example: 

bird becomes birds when there are more than one.

girl becomes girls

cat becomes cats

When it ends in a soft 's' sound, add an 'e' too

There are some words to which we add 'es' instead of just 's'. These are all words which end with a soft 's', 'sh' or 'ch' sound which can be spelled x, ch, sh, zz or s

For example:

box becomes boxes

bush becomes bushes

glass becomes glasses

bench becomes benches

As you can see, this ending can be spelled in lots of different ways, so it's a good idea to practice saying the different words out loud and listening for that soft s type sound at the end to help decide on which plural ending they take. 

Other anomalies include the word potato, which, although it doesn't end with the soft 's' sound, also takes the 'es' ending.

potato - potatoes

In all of these cases, the original word stays the same so it's just a matter of tacking s or es on to the end. 

Plurals With Different Endings

Things get slightly trickier when it comes to words that change in unpredictable ways between their singular and plural forms.

Words ending in y

If the word ends in a 'y', and the letter before the y is a consonant, like the word 'city', we need to remove the y, and replace it with an i before adding the 'es' plural ending. For example:

cit- cities

Words ending in f/fe

When the singular word ends in an 'f' or 'fe', like the word 'wolf', we need to change the f to a v before adding es to make the word plural. For example:

wol- wolves

life - lives

Beware of exceptions to this rule, like the word chef which just takes an s to make it plural. For example 

chef - chefs

Other exceptions are the word cafe, which also just takes an s on the end, and the word safe when it is used as a noun. For example:

cafe - cafes

safe - safes

Really irregular plurals

Some plural versions of words are really different to their singular versions - many don't even end in an s! Here are some of the most common irregular plurals that children will come across:

child - children

person - people

woman - women

foot - feet

goose - geese

When there is no plural at all

Some words don't change at all when they are in the plural. For example one fish, two fish, many fish. The same goes for deer and sheep. 

Other words that don't change are called "uncountable nouns". These are nouns like sugar or sand which stay the same no matter how much of them we are talking about! 

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