Irregular Plural Nouns

atkins bookshelf wordsThe English language is very idiosyncratic because it borrows from so many languages and for every spelling rule, there is one or several exceptions. Take plurals, for example. Most nouns can be made plural following a simple rule: adding an “s” or “es.” However, there is a large group of words, known as irregular plural nouns (or irregular plurals) that do not follow that rule. Curiously, some singular words sound strange since the plural form is used more often than the singular (eg, confetto, datum, graffito). For someone learning English as a second language, irregular nouns pose a real challenge. Here are some common irregular plural nouns (singular, followed by plural):

attorney general, attorneys general

bacterium, bacteria

bison, bison

calf, calves

child, children

cod, cod (or cods)

confetto, confetti

corps, corps

corpus, copora

cul-de-sac, culs-de-sac

datum, data

die, dice

elf, elves

fish, fish (or fishes)

focus, foci

foot, feet

formula, formulae

goose, geese

graffito, graffiti

index, indices

knife, knives

leaf, leaves

life, lives

loaf, loaves

louse, lice

metric, matrices

medium, media

man, men

moose, moose

mouse, mice

offspring, offspring

ox, oxen

person, people

pliers, pliers

quail, quails (or quails)

quantum, quanta

radius, radii

scarf, scarves

scissors, scissors

shelf, shelves

shrimp, shrimp (or shrimps)

tongs, tongs

tooth, teeth

tuna, tuna

tweezers, tweezers

wife, wives

woman, women

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