Nouns that can be counted i.e. countable nouns have two forms: Singular and Plural.
A singular noun names one person, animal, place, thing, or abstraction. See the examples of singular nouns in the table below:
boy, teacher, doctor, mother
Miami, city, United States
house, tree, bicycle, ice cream
truth, illusion, fantasy
beauty, loyalty, bravery
Function of Noun
A noun can function as the subject or the object of a verb or preposition in a sentence.
1. When to use Singular Noun
When you talk about one person, animal, place or thing, use a singular noun. For example;
an apple: I ate an apple.
a letter: He wrote a letter.
a boy: He is no longer a boy.
a bus: Let’s take a bus.
a map: I need a map.
2. ‘A’ or ‘An’ before a Singular Noun
Use indefinite articles ‘A’ or ‘An’ before a singular noun. A/An means “one thing or person”. They indicate that the noun which is used a sentence is neither particular nor definite.
We use ‘A’ in front of consonant sounds and An in front of vowel sounds. For examples;
A man: When we pronounce ‘man’, it has a consonant sound in the beginning.
A University: When we pronounce ‘University’, it has a consonant sound in the beginning.
An M.L.A: When we pronounce ‘M.L.A’, it has a vowel sound in the beginning.
Pay attention to sound before using a or an because a noun starting with a consonant letter may have vowel sound and vice versa.
When we use adjectives with nouns, we focus on the sound of adjectives not nouns for use of A/An.
My father bought a small umbrella for me.
Here we focus on the sound of ‘small‘ for the use of A/An not on the sound of ‘umbrella‘.
1. When to use Plural Noun
When you talk about two or more people, animals, places, or things, use plural nouns.
To use plural nouns,
- a noun determiner is optional. You can use the, zero, all numbers except one, these, those, any, no, either, neither, other, some, both, few, enough, plenty, of, a lot of, lots of, many, all, my, your, his, her, its, our, their, or a possessive noun.
- use a base form of the verb if they act as a subject.
2. Making Plurals
We apply the following rules to make plurals:
1. Most nouns are made plural, by adding ‑s to the end.
2. If the singular noun ends in ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, add ‑es to the end to make it plural.
|Tax ends in -x
Bus ends in -s
Church ends in -ch
Crash ends in -sh
Box ends in -x
3. If the singular ends in consonant + у (for example -by, -dy, -ту, -ty), the plural is normally made by changing у to i and adding -es.
|Party Ends in -ty
Lady Ends in -dy
Baby Ends in -by
4. Some nouns ending in -fe or -f have plurals in -ves
|Knife Ends in -fe
Leaf Ends in -f
Some nouns that end in -f or -fe can have plurals in either -fs or -ves.
|Scarf Ends in -f
Hoof Ends in -f
|Scarfs or Scarves
Hoofs or Hooves
5. Irregular plural (no rule to make them plural)
6. Some words that come from foreign languages have special plurals.
Nouns which are always plural
There are some nouns that are always plural because they are made up of two parts and followed by a plural verb.
- Scissors: The scissors are not sharp.
- Glasses: She wore glasses.
- Pajamas: Put on your pajamas.
- Spectacles: Tom lost his spectacles.
- Slippers: They put on their slippers.
- Sneakers: I need a new pair of sneakers.
- Jeans: My jeans have shrunk.
- Goggles: Tom put on his goggles.
- Trousers: My trousers are torn.
However, you can make these plural nouns singular by using a pair of:
a pair of binoculars
a pair of goggles
a pair of jeans
Nouns which are same in singular and plural
Uncountable nouns ending in -S
Some uncountable nouns that end with -s look like plural countable nouns but they are singular. So these nouns take a singular verb.
- Mathematics: Mathematics is not the most popular school subject.
- Economics: Economics is a science of choice.
- Politics: Politics is a dirty game.
When to use plural verb with singular noun
Some nouns like team, family, etc referring to groups can have either singular or plural verbs and pronouns. Plural forms are common when the group is seen as a collection of people doing personal things like deciding, hoping, or wanting. Singular forms are more common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit.
List of such nouns:
- The media is/are interested in this story.
- The team is/are going to lose.
- My company are wonderful. They do all they can for me.
- My company was founded in the 18th century.