ESL – Irregular plural nouns

Here’s a little grammar lesson about irregular plural nouns. English is pretty weird sometimes.

BNB16

8 November

Irregular plural nouns

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In English, there are hundreds of nouns that don’t follow the standard rules for making a noun plural. There are no easy ways to remember these words, so they generally have to be memorized.

Some of the rarer irregular plurals are often misused, leading to the creation of variant forms, which usually encounter resistance at first but eventually make it into the language. For example, the plural of formula has traditionally been formulae, but formulas is now far more common, and few would call it incorrect.

Latinate plurals

Examples of some nouns retaining their plural forms from Latin and other languages:

singular plural
addendum addenda
alga algae
alumnus alumni
amoeba amoebae
antenna antennae
bacterium bacteria

-o becomes –oes

Examples of most nouns ending in –o adding an –s, but some take –es instead—for example:

singular plural
echo echoes
embargo embargoes
hero

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