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Irregular Plural Nouns

Flying Geese - irregular plural nounsFlying Geese

Irregular plural nouns are important to master as you build your spelling skills. Here's a question: If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of moose meese? Well, a lot of irregular plural nouns just don't make a lot of sense. But many of them do follow specific patterns!

On this page, I will cover many examples and patterns that deserve your special attention.  I'll begin with regular plurals and gradually move toward the most challenging irregular plural noun spellings.

By the end of this page, you'll be on your way to improving your spelling skills with this tricky set of words! You'll also find a handy printable version at the bottom for your reference. 

Common Patterns of Plural Nouns

1. The first most common pattern in plural nouns is to simply add a final -s.  You probably already know to add this letter at the end of common nouns such as these:




three school buses - plural nounsThree buses

2. The second most common pattern is to add -es to nouns that end in certain sounds or letters, such as s, ss, x, z, ch or sh.  Here are examples of plurals that must end in -es










Note the final z is doubled in quizzes. The final s is not doubled in buses.

Check up:

How to do you spell the missing word in each of these sentences? Make a plural of the word in (    ) at the end of each line.

A)  Tom heard three __________ on his phone.  ( buzz)

B)  My young niece likes to blow me ________  .   (kiss)

C)  We set up two extra __________ for our dinner guests.  (table)

D)  I like to make two ________ before I blow out the candles.    (wish)

Check all your answers at the bottom of the page.

3. Another common pattern is seen in nouns that end in consonant + -y.  In these words, the y is changed to i, then the -es is added. 




Exception: sky/skies

Patterns for Irregular Plural Nouns

Two Turkeys - Plural NounsTwo Turkeys

4. In other nouns, the y at the end of the word is preceded by a vowel. To spell these plurals, simply add an -s




5. Another pattern for irregular plurals is seen in nouns that in f or fe. The spelling is changed to v, followed by -es This pattern is seen here:




Check Up

How to do you spell the missing word in each of these sentences? Make a plural of the word in (    ) at the end of each line.

E. Gary saved many _____ as a firefighter.  (life)

F.  Jan has been on several exciting _________ this year.   (journey)

G. Our schools has three _________  . (library)

H. Dad built new _______ for our books.  (shelf)

Singing tomatoes - plural nounsSinging Tomatoes

6. Some plurals that end in -o add -es when forming their plurals. These are words in which the o is preceded by a consonant.




7. Nouns ending in -o preceded by a vowel add only the -s, not the -es




8. Some plural nouns do not follow any specific pattern and simply must be memorized. The good news is that you already know many of them!

Shoes and socks on feetTwo Feet







Check Up

How to do you spell the missing word in each of these sentences? Make a plural of the word in (    ) at the end of each line.

I.  Our family likes to play ___________  (domino)

J. Bryce is designing three new _________ for my website.  (logo)

K. You should brush your ________ every morning and every night.  (tooth)

L.  That outside cat is really good at catching _______.  (mouse)

M. The photographer took at least 100 ________!  (photo)

9. Compound nouns can form plurals in two ways. An -s is added to the last word when the component parts are about equal in importance.... 


bucket seats

bus stops

 ...OR when the parts are not equal, the s is added to the nouns:




10. Some English nouns that were originally Italian, Greek, Latin or French form plurals according to their language of origin.







Three elkThree elk

11.  A few nouns do not change spellings at all when forming the plural. 







Check Up

How to do you spell the missing word in each of these sentences? Make a plural of the word in (    ) at the end of each line.

N.  We needs lots of ______ for the party.   (ice)

O.  The grasshopper has a pair of very long _________. (antenna)

P.  All the  _________ follow the voice of the shepherd.  (sheep)

Q. We had several nice ___________ in our weather recently.  (breakthrough)

R.  We bought a bag of a dozen _____________. (grapefruit)

S. Both of Hank's _____________ admire him greatly.  (stepson)

A. buzzes B. kisses C. tables D. wishes
E. lives F. journeys G. libraries H. shelves
I. dominoes J. logos K. teeth L. mice M. photos
N. ice O. antennae P. sheep Q. breakthroughs R. grapefruit S. stepsons

Printable version of this lesson on Irregular Plural Nouns

irregular plural nouns page 1
irregular plural nouns page 2

More Helpful Resources

Sixth Grade eBook Lesson on Plurals

My Sixth Grade Spelling Word Lists & Activities eBook has a superb lesson on plural nouns, along with 11 additional lessons, spelling word games, and a total of 240 spelling words for 6th graders. 

300 Commonly Misspelled Words

300 Commonly Misspelled Words - Skim this long list of words to find the ones you misspell the most often. Then follow the tips on this page to master their correct spellings. Why make the same mistakes over and over again when you CAN improve your spelling skills?! A free printable page is included, along with many additional helpful resources. 


Q: What are some of the trickiest irregular plural nouns?

A: Some of the trickiest are those that follow no rules and simply must be memorized including: alumnus/alumni, cactus/cacti, child/children, larva/larvae, antenna/antennae, medium/media, datum/data, echo/echoes, criterion/criteria, thief/thieves,  spoonful/spoonfuls,  foot/feet and many more.

Several words do not change when forming plurals such as deer, rice, tuna, wheat, scissors, salmon, jeans, aircraft and more. 

Q: What are two helpful "rules" for remembering how to spell irregular plural nouns?

A: One rule is for nouns that in f or fe. The spelling is changed to v, followed by -es.  Examples are  wife/wives, life/lives, knife/knives, and shelf/shelves.

Another good rule to learn is for nouns ending in y. If the y is preceded by a vowel, simply add an -s to form the plural.  Examples: journeys, keys, trays, donkey, and boys.

Author Ann Richmond Fisher

Ann Richmond Fisher is a longtime published educational writer, a former classroom teacher and a former homeschool teacher. Ann's spelling bee resources, graded spelling word lists, spelling games, worksheets, and other language arts resources have become respected around the globe since she launched Spelling-Words-Well in 2010.

Ann is also the creator of www.word-game-world.com.


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