English Nouns

Nouns in English can be singular (one only) or plural (more than one); countable (a noun that we can count, i.e. that we can make plural) or uncountable (a noun that it is impossible to count).

Some nouns are always plural, such as trousers, clothes, and scissors.

Singular and plural nouns

Some nouns are regular, and some nouns are irregular.

Regular nouns

For most nouns, you can add s to the singular noun to make it plural.

One dog = Two dogs
One cat = Two cats
One book = Two books

This is also true for most nouns ending in a vowel.

One sea = Two seas
One bite = Two bites
One bikini = Two bikinis
One zoo = Two zoos

Spelling differences

When a noun ends in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -tch, x, z add -es to make it plural.

One bus = Two buses
One boss = Two bosses
One leash = Two leashes
One church = Two churches
One match = Two matches
One box = Two boxes
One quiz = Two quizzes

When a noun ends in -y, there are two possibilities.

1. vowel + y = add s
One key = Two keys
One boy = Two boys

2. consonant + y = change the y to i and add es
One study = Two studies
One baby = Two babies

Other spelling differences

When a noun ends in -fe, change to –ves.
One life = Two lives
One wife = Two wives
One knife = Two knives

Most words which end in -f change to -ves in the plural.
One leaf = Two leaves
One wolf = Two wolves
One thief = Two thieves

Some words which end in -f can have -fs in the plural.
One scarf = Two scarves / Two scarfs

Most words which end in -o have -s for the plural.
One zoo = Two zoos
One memo = Two memos

Some words which end in -o have -es for the plural
One hero = Two heroes
One potato = Two potatoes
One tomato = Two tomatoes

Words of Latin and Greek origin

For some words, you can have either the anglicised plural spelling, or the Latin / Greek plural spelling:

One cactus = Two cacti / cactuses
One curriculum = Two curricula / curriculums
One antenna = Two antennae / antennas

For other words, use the Latin / Greek plural spelling:

One stimulus = Two stimuli
One vertebra = Two vertebrae
One analysis = Two analyses

Check in a dictionary to be sure what the plural spelling is.

Irregular nouns

Some nouns have irregular plural endings.

One man = Two men
One woman = Two women
One child = Two children
One person = Two people
One ox = Two oxen
One mouse = Two mice
One tooth = Two teeth
One foot = Two feet

Some nouns have the same singular and plural endings.

One sheep = Two sheep
One series = Two series

Countable and uncountable nouns

Nouns can be countable, uncountable, or both countable and uncountable.

Countable nouns

Countable nouns are nouns that you can count. This means you can have a singular and plural form.

For example, one apple or two apples.

Remember: with singular, countable nouns there is always an article.
An apple, my apple, the apple, this apple, etc (not just “apple”.)

Uncountable nouns

Uncountable nouns are nouns that you cannot count. This means that there is no plural form. Uncountable nouns are usually:

– concepts (life, love, happiness, peace, advice, information. time, money)
– materials and substances (wood, paper, iron, bread)
– liquids (water, coffee)

Both countable and uncountable nouns

Some nouns can be both:

coffee (uncountable)
“Coffee is a popular drink.”
a coffee / two coffees (countable)
“I’d like a coffee and two teas, please.”

paper (uncountable)
“We produce paper in our factory.”
a paper (countable)
“The Guardian is a paper from the UK.”

wood (substance)
“The desk is made from wood.”
a wood (lots of trees)
“I live near a wood.”

For more information on countable and uncountable nouns, see our page on articles.

English Nouns

Choose the correct answer.

Go on to the next page to learn how to ask questions with the verb “to be” and other verbs: Learn How to Ask Questions at a Hotel