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There are several nouns that have irregular plural forms.




Singular Plural
fish fish
sheep sheep
barracks barracks
foot feet
tooth teeth
goose geese
tooth teeth
goose geese
child children
man men
woman women
person people
mouse mice

Plurals formed in this way are sometimes called irregular plurals or mutated (or mutating) plurals.

  • more than one child = children
  • more than one woman = women
  • more than one man = men
  • more than one person = people
  • more than one goose = geese
  • more than one mouse = mice
  • more than one barracks = barracks
  • more than one deer = deer

Other irregular plural forms include the following:

Some foreign nouns retain their plural. (Note that some of them adapted the s of the English plural form!)

Singular Foreign plural English plural
alga algae  
amoeba amoebae amoebas
antenna antennae antennas
formula formulae formulas
larva larvae  
nebula nebulae nebulas
vertebra vertebrae  

Nouns ending in us get a, i or the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural English plural
corpus corpora  
genus genera  
alumnus alumni  
bacillus bacilli  
cactus cacti cactuses
focus foci  
fungus fungi funguses
nucleus nuclei  
octopus octopi octopuses
radius radii  
stimulus stimuli  
syllabus syllabi syllabuses
terminus termini  

Nouns ending in um get a, i or the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural English plural
addendum addenda  
bacterium bacteria  
curriculum curricula curriculums
datum data  
erratum errata  
medium media  
memorandum memoranda memorandums
ovum ova  
stratum strata  
symposium symposia symposiums

Nouns ending in ex or ix get ices or get the s of the English plural:

Singular Foreign plural English plural
apex apices apexes
appendix appendices appendixes
cervix cervices cervixes
index indices indexes
matrix matrices matrixes
vortex vortices  

Nouns ending in is becoming es in plural:

Singular Plural form
analysis analyses
axis axes
basis bases
crisis crises
diagnosis diagnoses
emphasis emphases
hypothesis hypotheses
neurosis neuroses
oasis oases
parenthesis parentheses
synopsis synopses
thesis theses

Nouns ending in -on becoming -a:

singular plural
criterion criteria
phenomenon phenomena
automaton automata

Nouns that are always singular:

A handful of nouns appear to be plural in form but take a singular verb:

  • The news is bad.
  • Gymnastics is fun to watch.
  • Economics / mathematics / statistics is said to be difficult.

Some nouns never take the s of the plural and are always singular:

  • your luggage / baggage is so heavy
  • I'd like to buy new furniture for the house
  • you can find more information in our website.

Different types of nouns

There are different types of nouns:

1. An abstract noun names an idea, event, quality, or concept (freedom, love, courage...) Concrete nouns name something recognizable through the sense (table, dog, house...)

2. Animate nouns refer to a person, animal, or other creature (man, elephant, chicken...) An inanimate noun refers to a material object (stone, wood, table...)

3. A collective noun describes a group of things or people as a unit (family, flock, audience...)

4. Common noun is the name of a group of similar things (table, book, window...) Proper nouns, however, refer to the name of a single person, place or thing (John, Joseph, London...)

5. Compound nouns refer to two or more nouns combined to form a single noun (sister-in-law, schoolboy, fruit juice)

6. Countable (or count) nouns have a singular and a plural form. In plural, these nouns can be used with a number- they can be counted. (friends, chairs, houses, boys...) Uncountable (or non count) nouns, however, can only be used in singular. They can't be counted. (money, bread, water, coffee...)

THERE IS - THERE ARE

We use there is and there are to say that something exists.

 

Positive Sentences

We use there is for singular and there are for plural.

  • There is one table in the classroom.
  • There are three chairs in the classroom.
  • There is a spider in the bath.
  • There are many people at the bus stop.

We also use There is with uncountable nouns:

  • There is milk in the fridge.
  • There is some sugar on the table.
  • There is ice cream on your shirt.

 

Contractions

The contraction of there is is there's.

  • There's a good song on the radio.
  • There's only one chocolate left in the box.

You cannot contract there are.

  • There are nine cats on the roof.
  • There are only five weeks until my birthday.

 

Negative Form

The negative is formed by putting not after is or are:

  • There is not a horse in the field.
  • There are not eight children in the school.
  • There is not a tree in the garden.
  • There are not two elephants in the zoo.

We almost always use contractions when speaking.

The Negative contractions are:

  • There's not = There isn't
  • There are not = There aren't

 

There aren't with ANY

When we want to indicate that a zero quantity of something exists we use there aren't any.

  • There aren't any people at the party.
  • There aren't any trees in my street.

We also use this structure with uncountable nouns:

  • There isn't any water in the swimming pool.
  • There isn't any sugar in my coffee.

 

Questions

To form a question we place is / are in front of there.

Again we use any with plural questions or those which use uncountable nouns.

We also use there is / are in short answers.

  • Is there a dog in the supermarket? - No, there isn't.
  • Are there any dogs in the park? - Yes, there are.
  • Is there a security guard in the shop? - Yes, there is.
  • Are there any polar bears in Antarctica? - No, there aren't.
  • Is there any ice-cream in the freezer? - Yes, there is.

 

How Many with Are There

If we want to find out the number of objects that exist we use How many in the following form:

How many + plural noun + are there (+ complement).

  • How many dogs are there in the park?
  • How many students are there in your class?
  • How many countries are there in South America?
  • How many Star Wars films are there?

MUCH, MANY – A LITTLE, A FEW

1. When do we use much and when many?

  • much: uncountable nouns (milk, marmalade, money, time etc.)
  • many: countable nouns (bottles of milk, jars of marmalade, dollars, minutes etc.)

Examples:

  • How much money have you got?
  • How many dollars have you got?

In informal English these questions are often answered with a lot of, lots of. There is no much difference between the two phrases.

2. When do we use a little/little and when a few/few?

  • a little: non countable nouns (milk, marmalade, money, time etc.)
  • a few: countable nouns (bottles of milk, jars of marmalade, dollars, minutes etc.)

Examples:

  • He has a little money left.
  • He has a few dollars left.

We use few and little without the article a to point out a more negative meaning.

Examples:

  • A few students of our school know this. (There are some student who know it.)
  • Few students know this. (It is almost unkonown.)




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