plural spelling rules

Plural Spelling Rules

boys, countries, radios , heroes, boxes, rulers, women, children, dogs, washes , lorries

Do you know why and when we add -ies, -ves, -s and -es to plural nouns?

We're going to look at these important plural spelling rules then there's a spelling test so read carefully.

1. Add -s to regular plurals. Adding an s is all you need to do to form a regular plural: file/files, centre/centres, girl/girls, book/books, pen/pens, computer/computers.

2. Adding -es to words ending in -ch, -s, -sh, -x, -z to form a plural: wash/washes, box/boxes, match/matches, glass/glasses

*There's one exception to this rule. If the -ch ending is pronounced with a 'k' then add -s (stomach/stomachs)

Click here to go to the adding -es video and exercise

3. Changing to -ves or -fs.
Some words ending in -f or -fe change to -ves: knife/knives, life/lives, wife/wives, shelf/shelves
*exceptions add -s - roof/roofs, proof/proofs, chief/chiefs.

Words ending in -ff add -s cliffs, sniffs, scoffs, toffs stiffs, tiffs...

*These words could be either -ves or -s - scarf/scarves or scarfs, dwarf/dwarves or dwarfs
Click here for more info on the -ves or -fs rule and spelling test

4. Change -y to -ies or -s

a. If the word ends in a vowel-a,e,i,o,u, + y then just add -s.
boy/boys, journey/journeys, key/keys, tray/trays.

b. If the word ends in a consonant + y then it changes to -ies
country/countries, baby/babies, body/bodies, memory/memories
Click here to go to the y to -ies or -s video and games

5. Adding -s or -es to words ending in O.
You can either add an -s or -es to words ending in -O or sometimes they're spelled either way.

a.If a word ends in a vowel-a,e,i,o,u + -O then we sometimes add -s.
radio/radios, stereo/stereos, video/videos

b. If a words ends in consonant + -O then we sometimes add -s or -es.
No rules for this - you just have to learn them or use a dictionary.

kilo/kilos, zero/zeros, piano/pianos, photo/photos
but hero/heroes, potato/potatoes, volcano/volcanoes, tomato/tomatoes.

Click here to go to the Making plurals with O words video and exercise

6. Irregular plurals
a woman/some women, a man/5 men, child/children, person/people, tooth/teeth, foot/feet, mouse/mice, penny/pence

7. No change between plural and singular.
There are some words that are the same in the plural as in the singular: sheep, series, fish*, cod, salmon, aircraft, cattle, scissors, deer, trousers

fish or fishes? The plural form fish is more common. Fishes is used when talking about different types of fish. (Oxford Dictionary)

Spelling test

Now write the plural versions to these words. The answers are after this so don't look!

1. man
2. fox
3. family
4. mobile phone
5. baby
6. person
8. dictionary
9. teacher
10. watch
11. bus
12. fish
13. photo
14. tomato
15. woman
16. wife
17. body
18. fly
19. colour
20. mother-in-law

Check your answers below.

Thanks to Oxford Dictionaries online

2. foxes
3. families
4. mobile phones
5. babies
6. people
7. radios
8. dictionaries
9. teachers
10. watches
11. buses
12. fish
13. photos
14. tomatoes
15. women
16. wives
17. bodies
18. flies
19. colours
20. mothers-in-law

If you're interested in learning more about spelling rules check out my Spelling Rules Workbook

Or for newer more in-depth spelling rules lessons go to my online video course The Rules of English Spelling at -
click here to go to

spelling rules course