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FAQ - English: Singulars and Plurals of Nouns (Music Library)

 

ENGLISH: SINGULARS AND PLURALS OF NOUNS

Cook Music Library Brief Guides, No. 29


Regular Plurals:

Most nouns add s to form the plural.

Many nouns ending in s, sh, ch, x, and z form their plurals by adding es:

church   churches

waltz   waltzes

Nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant form their plural in ies:

symphony   symphonies

but nouns ending in y preceded by a vowel just add s:

key   keys


Irregular Plurals:

Some nouns taken directly from ancient Greek or Latin have the original endings in the plural:


Singular Plural

addendum   addenda

alumnus (masculine)   alumni

alumna (feminine)   alumnae

crisis   crises

criterion   criteria

emphasis   emphases

parenthesis   parentheses

phenomenon   phenomena

synthesis   syntheses

thesis   theses


Some nouns taken from Latin may look singular but they are actually plural:

Singular Plural

medium   media

datum   data

Nevertheless, many modern authors treat them as a collective singular:

The media has the power to manipulate the public.

As the data shows, nonverbal clues are important in teaching.


A few nouns of Germanic origin change the middle of the word in forming the plural:

Singular Plural

man   men

mouse   mice

tooth   teeth

woman   women


Some nouns remain the same in the singular and the plural:

deer

sheep

series


Some Common Abstract Nouns Do Not Take The Indefinite Article:

advice   evidence   information

He gave me some advice [or evidence or information].

He gave me a piece of advice [or evidence or information].

NOT: He gave me an advice [or evidence or information].

Note: These nouns never take S to form a plural.


Some Nouns That Seem Plural Are Actually Treated As Singular:

economics

Economics governs musical performance more than we might like.

news

The news of Napoleon's activities was so disillusioning that Beethoven crossed out his dedication of the Third Symphony to the French emperor.

physics

The physics of music is a field that all music students should know something about.

repertoire

The piano repertoire is larger than the repertoire for any other instrument.


Some Nouns of Italian Origin Have Two Possible Plurals (English and Italian):

Singular Plurals

concerto   concertos   concerti

cello   cellos   celli (rare)

ritornello   ritornellos   ritornelli

solo   solos   soli (rare)


But other, similar nouns of Italian origin have only English plurals:

altos  

pianos  

sopranos


David Lasocki
rev. 11/9/01



last updated: 4/4/2012