Adding -ves or -s to words ending in f or fe

knife-knives, half-halves, roof-roofs, cliff-cliffs, chief-chiefs

The -f to -ves rule is an easy rule but with many exceptions that you need to learn.

The trouble with spelling rules is that there are always exceptions! It's good to know rules but you need to know the exceptions too.

Let's look at some common words with this rule and the exceptions.

Watch the video and/or read the information below. Then do the spelling test at the end.

1. Words ending in ff you just add s to make the plural.
cliff - cliffs
toff - toffs
scuff - scuffs
sniff - sniffs
Some words ending in f add s:
roof - roofs
chief - chiefs
oaf -oafs

2. There are other words ending in f or fe that change their plurals to ves:
calf - calves
half - halves
knife - knives
leaf - leaves
loaf - loaves
life - lives
wife - wives
shelf - shelves
thief - thieves
yourself - yourselves

3. Some words can have both endings ves or s:
scarf - scarfs/scarves
dwarf - dwarfs / dwarves
wharf - wharfs / wharves
handkerchief - handkerchiefs / handkerchieves

spelling tests


Check your spelling letter by letter, capital letters and apostrophes.

1. My life is good but many people's lives aren't.

2. His wife has lots of scarves/scarfs stacked up on shelves.

3. I love seeing the White Cliffs of Dover from the ferry.

4. Please cut the orange in two halves and give one half to him and the other to her.

5. How many loaves of bread do you want?

6. I live in a tower block and can see loads of roofs and chimneys.

7. In autumn the leaves fall from the trees.

8. She always sniffs the perfume in Selfridges.