English Grammar
Write Better. Right Now!
Learn How to Write Better English!!

Plain English Writing - Business Writing Software - English Grammar Books - Free eBooks
LousyWriter - Write Better English

How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!
Free eBook:
How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!

( Sponsor Ads )
StyleWriter - the world's largest style and usage checker, makes it easy to write error-free, plain English copy.

Creative Writing Software - Best-selling fiction writing software and story-development tools to help you write your next story or novel.

The Most Confusing Plural Words in English

Confusing Plural Words in EnglishMany foreign words in regular use form their plurals in the English way. We commonly say bandits, not the Italian banditti; indexes, not the Latin indices.

Others, however, retain their foreign plurals: axis, axes, datum, data, radius, radii, phenomenon, phenomena.

Some have both an English and a foreign plural form: beau, beaus, beaux. The English language does not have set rules to cover these special cases; each one must be learned for itself.

Certain foreign nouns retain their foreign plurals: alumna, alumnce; alumnus, alumni; analysis, analyses; axis, axes; antithesis, antitheses; bacterium, bacteria; basis, bases; beau, beaux; crisis, crises; etc.

Certain foreign nouns have two plural forms: appendix, appendices or appendixes; cherub, cherubs or cherubim; formula, formulae or formulas; memorandum, memoranda or memorandums.

Certain nouns have two plurals of different meanings: brother, brothers (in family), brethren (in church or in society); cloth, cloths (varieties of cloth), clothes (garments); die, dice (used in games of chance), dies (implements for stamping or for making screws); index, indexes (referring to books), indices (referring to mathematics); penny, pennies (coins, severally), pence (amount reckoned by coins); pea, peas (a definite number of seeds of the pea-plant), pease (peas spoken of collectively or in bulk).

When words taken from foreign languages have passed into common use, the plural is formed in the regular way. During the process of becoming part of our English language, however, two plural forms are generally current, either of which you may use correctly.
The most common of these words are contained in the first table:

(Singular Form) (English Plural) (Foreign Plural)
apex apexes apices
appendix appendixes appendices
automaton automatons automate
bandit bandits banditti
beau beaus beaux
cactus cactuses cacti
cherub cherubs cherubim
chrysalis chrysalises chrysalides
emporium emporiums emporia
encomium encomiums encomia
focus focuses foci
formula formulas formulae
helix helixes helices
index indexes indices
iris irises irides
medium mediums media
memorandum memorandums memoranda
scholium scholiums scholia
seraph seraphs seraphim
stigma stigmas stigmata
virtuoso virtuosos virtuosi

The following foreign importations still retain the foreign plural form, which we now use in our English language:

(Singular Form) (Foreign Plural)
addenda addendum
amanuenses amanuensis
analyses analysis
antenna antennae
antithesis antitheses
axes axis
bacteria bacterium
bases basis
chateau chateaux
crisis crises
criteria criterion
data datum
desiderata desideratum
dicta dictum
ellipsis ellipses
emphasis emphases
ephemera ephemerae
errata erratum
esophagus esophagi
genius genii
genus genera
gymnasium gymnasia
hypothesis hypotheses
lamina laminae
larva larvae
mausoleum mausolea
metamorphosis metamorphoses
miasma miasmata
minutia minutiae
momentum momenta
nebula nebulae
nucleus nuclei
oasis oases
octopus octopi
parenthesis parentheses
phenomenon phenomena
radius radii
spectrum spectra
stimulus stimuli
stratum strata
synopsis synopses
synthesis syntheses
terminus termini
thesis theses
vortex vortices
(Singular Form) (Foreign Plural)

© LousyWriter.com