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Unusual plural words, the plural version of some words.

Unusual Plurals

In most cases to make a word plural (to mean more than one in number) you just have to add an “s” or “es”, there are, however, some exceptions. Here are a few of the most familiar, if you have other favourites please send them in to june@hintsandthings.co.uk

Some words are the same in both singular and plural forms and some have no singular form, these are shown in green.



SINGULAR

PLURAL
   

amoeba

amoebae

Mark
Daniel

amoebas is also acceptable
 

attorney general

attorneys general

Heidi Kroening

bacterium

bacteria

bison

bison

Bob Bartels

brother

brethren (this is the archaic plural)

brothers

Jacob Lawrence

   

cactus

cacti

Heather

child

children

Katie Barlow
& daughter

coccyx

coccyges

Jacob
Lawrence

coccyxes

colon

cola or colons

Martha Williams

corps

corps

Margarita
Minster

cow

kine 

(old fashioned term)

Gary Engel

cod

cod

Margarita
Minster

confetto

confetti

Robert
Bemis

   

criterion

criteria

cul-de-sac

  culs-de-sac

Louis Hegedus

datum

data

deer

deer

Bob Bartels

diagnosis

diagnoses

die

dice

elf

elves

Bob Bartels

fish

fish

(or fishes)

Margarita
Minster

Focus

Foci

Charles Rowan

foot

feet

Gigi Velazquez 

formula

formulae

Katie Barlow
& daughter

forum

fora

Mark
Daniel

forums is also acceptable.
 

fowl

fowl 

(or fowls)

Margarita
Minster

   

gateau

gateaux

genius

geniuses 

Richard Hill

or genii

 

Mark Almand has
kindly pointed out that each version is restricted to a particular
use of the word genius – see

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/genius?s=t

 

goose

geese

Katie
Barlow & daughter
Robert

graffito

graffiti

halibut

halibut

Margarita
Minster

hippopotamus

hippopotami

Heather

More commonly used
hippopotamuses

index

indicies


Mark Daniel

indexes is also acceptable
 

locus

loci

Jacob Lawrence

   

louse

lice

man

men

Katie
Barlow & daughter

man-of-war

men of war

Heidi
Kroening

means

means

Margarita
Minster

Medium

Media

Charles
Rowan

mongoose

mongooses

moose

moose

Margarita
Minster

mouse

Computer mouse

mice

mice or mouses

Jacob Lawrence

mythos

mythoi

octopus

octopuses ***

Richard
Hill

octopodes

Jacob Lawrence

offspring

offspring

Margarita
Minster

ox

oxen

Peter
Inchley

paparazzo


paparrazzi


Mark
Daniel

perch

perch

(or perches)

Margarita
Minster

person

people

Katie Barlow
& daughter

phenomenon

phenomena

pike

pike 

(when referring to fish)

Margarita
Minster

plateau

plateaux

   

pliers

pliers

Kevin
Lee

polyhedron

polyhedra

Heidi
Kroening

polyhedrons*

* alternative form

quantum

quanta

radius

radii

Jeremy
Symons

salmon

salmon

 (or salmons)

Margarita
Minster

scissors

scissors

Margarita
Minster

series

series

Margarita
Minster

sheep

sheep

Margarita
Minster

sister

sistren (archaic form)

sisters

Jacob Lawrence

spaghetto

spaghetti

Jacob Lawrence

species

species

Margarita
Minster

stadium

stadia

Mark
Daniel

stadiums is acceptable
 

stratum

strata

syllabus

syllabi or syllabuses

Jacob Lawrence

tongs

tongs

Kevin
Lee

tooth

teeth

Katie Barlow
& daughter

trout

trout

(or trouts)

Margarita
Minster

tuna

tuna

(or tunas)

Margarita
Minster

tweezers

tweezers

Kevin
Lee

vertebra


vertebrae


Mark Daniel

   

woman

women*
***

Katie Barlow
& daughter

 

* Mr. Tim
Lynch also points out this is the only English plural where the first
syllable sounds different in addition to the changed ending.

***
Alec Rivers has
pointed out
– “It
is stated that ‘women’ is the only plural that changes pronunciation on
the first syllable: how about brother – brethren, and child – children?”

**************************

I have recently been asked if the word
music” can be used in the plural form as “musics” –
my immediate response was “no”, but having done some research it
would appear this term is now widely used.  If anyone can throw any
light on this particular subject I would be delighted to hear from you.

Bree Guerra
comments as follows:-

Just to let you know, in an academic (musicological) setting, the plural word “musics” works the same way as the plural form “peoples”– it refers to a group of distinct musical practices or styles.

Mel Martin
makes the following observation:-


“Music” is a collective… you wouldn’t use a number with it.
 


Another query I have had is regarding the plural
form of the word “ginseng” – here again I found confusion. 
Ginseng appears to be a species of plant and also a term given to the root
of the plant.  Presumably when referring to several roots it would be
termed “ginsengs” – unless anyone knows differently!

Help from English graduates etc.
would be more than welcome.


Stephen Q. Muth
writes – Although one might argue they are always plural, or qualified
by another noun (pair of vs. pairs of) to make the distinction, as a
stand-alone word, it can be referent to singular or plural things. E.g.,
guy across the room says “pass me those pants on the table” — without
actually being there, it is not clear if there’s one or two (or more)
pairs on the table.

Or this example: (man comes into room wearing
outlandish pair of sequined Elvis-style trousers, turns to you,
immediately brightens and says “Nice pants, eh?”

It’s pretty obvious that he’s talking about one
pair of pants UNLESS you happened to be in a room with piles of
outlandish kinds of pants on top of tables all over the place. Now,
we’re in a quandary… is he merely making a remark about the absurdity
of being in a roomful of outlandish trousers? Or perhaps making a point
about how much better the one pair he’s wearing is than the ones in the
rest of the room? Or simply remarking on the pair he’s got on?

Ah… I just thought of another one.

Trousers and trousers



Now for something a bit different
I received the following interesting information from Aaron
B Lingwood,
a student of Japanese, which I thought would be of interest
to others –

I am not a student of English but a student of Japanese.

I have seen the plural of Ninja written the following ways:

Ninja
Ninjas
Ninjii
Ninji
Ninjaed

I believe the correct plural of Ninja is
Shinobi.

Plurals don’t exist in the Japanese language.

In Ancient Japanese, some word forms were created to convey Singularity.

Ninja was derived as the singular of Shinobi in the following way:

In Ancient Japanese, characters have 2 strict readings: the ‘on’ and the ‘kun’ readings.

‘Kun’ reading are those derived from the Chinese pronunciation of the character.

The character for Shinobi () was pronounced as its’ ‘kun’ reading.

The ‘on’ reading for this character
is NIN with JA being derived from SHA (
)

SHA being the ‘on’ character for thing or item.

As no ownership is implied, the term NINJA conveys a single
shinobi.


Wow, and they
say English is difficult to learn!