A Noun that denotes one person or thing, is said to be in the Singular form as,
Boy, girl, cow, bird, tree, book, pen.
A Noun that denotes more than one person or thing, is said to be in the Plural form
Boys, girls, cows, birds, trees, books, pens.
Thus there are two Numbers in English-the Singular and the Plural.
The Plural of nouns is generally formed by adding -s to the singular,
boy: boys , pen: pens , girl: girls , desk: desks
Nouns ending in -s, -sh, -ch, or -x form the plural by adding -es to the singular
class : classes , dish: dishes , box: boxes
Most Nouns ending in -o also form the plural by adding -es to the singular
buffalo: buffaloes , potato: potatoes
A few nouns ending in -o merely add -s,
dynamo: dynamos , logo: logos , commando: commandos
Nouns ending in -y, preceded by a consonant, form their plural by changing -y into -i and adding -es
baby: babies , lady: ladies , city: cities
The following nouns ending in -f or -fe form their plural by changing -f/fe into v and adding -es,
thief: thieves , wife: wives , wolf: wolves , life: lives
The nouns dwarf, hoof, scarf and wharf take either -s or -ves in the plural.
dwarfs or dwarves;
hoofs or hooves;
Other words ending in -f or -fe add -s
chief: chiefs , safe: safes , proof: proofs
A few nouns form their plural by changing the inside vowel of the singular
man: men , woman: women , foot: feet , mouse: mice
There are a few nouns that form their plural by adding -en to the singular
ox: oxen , child: children.
Some nouns have the singular and the plural alike
Swine, sheep, deer, aircraft, spacecraft, series, species
Some nouns are used only in the plural.
scissors, tongs, pincers, spectacles, trousers, drawers, jeans, alms, annals
Some nouns look plural but are in fact singular
mathematics, physics, news ,measles
A Compound Noun generally forms its plural by adding -s to the principal word
Commander-in-chief : Commanders-in-chief
Son-in-Law : Sons-in-law
Collective nouns denote a group of people, objects, ideas, or animals as a single concept. Though the collective noun refers to more than one in a group, the noun itself is considered a single thing.
The singular verb and pronoun form is used is if they are acting in unison. For example:
The class listens [singular verb form] carefully to its [singular pronoun] teacher's instructions. (Here the class is a unit acting together as one. They are all doing the same thing, listening, at the same time.)
When the members of the group are acting on their own, use the plural verb and pronoun forms. For example:
The class start [plural verb form] their [plural pronoun] projects while the teacher grades their [plural pronoun] papers. (The class is a unit, but they act individually when they work on their own projects.)
Examples of collective nouns:
Army , Audience , Band , Board , Cast , Class , Flock of birds , Pride of lions
While making Sentences Subjects and verbs must AGREE with one another in number (singular or plural). Thus, if a subject is singular, its verb must also be singular; if a subject is plural, its verb must also be plural. Refer the activity of Subject Verb agreement. The rules of Subject Verb agreement are :
Basic Rule. A singular subject (she, Bill, car) takes a singular verb (is, goes, shines), whereas a plural subject (they,we) takes a plural verb(are, go, shine).
E.g. - singular subject - My brother is a nutritionist.
- plural subject - My sisters are mathematicians.
Rule 1. A subject will come before a phrase beginning with of. This is a key rule for understanding subjects. The word of is the culprit in many, perhaps most, subject-verb mistakes.
Incorrect: A bouquet of yellow roses lend color and fragrance to the room.
Correct: A bouquet of yellow roses lends . . . (bouquet lends, not roses lend)
Rule 2. Two singular subjects connected by or, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb.
E.g. - My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.
- Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
- Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.
Rule 3. The verb in an or, either/or, or neither/nor sentence agrees with the noun or pronoun closest to it.
E.g. - Neither the plates nor the serving bowl goes on that shelf.
- Neither the serving bowl nor the plates go on that shelf.
Rule 4. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.
E.g. - A car and a bike are my means of transportation.
Exceptions: - Breaking and entering is against the law.
- The bed and breakfast was charming.
In those sentences, breaking and entering and bed and breakfast are compound nouns.
Rule 5. Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by such words as along with, as well as, with, besides, not. These words and phrases are not part of the subject. Ignore them and use a singular verb when the subject is singular.
E.g. - The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
- Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.
Rule 6. With words that indicate portions : a lot, a majority, some, all, etc. Rule 1 given earlier is reversed, and we are guided by the noun after of. If the noun after of is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.
E.g. - A lot of the pie has disappeared.
- A lot of the pies have disappeared.
- A third of the city is unemployed.
- A third of the people are unemployed.
Rule 7. In sentences beginning with here or there, the true subject follows the verb.
E.g. - There are four hurdles to jump.
- There is a high hurdle to jump.
Rule 8. Use a singular verb with distances, periods of time, sums of money, etc., when considered as a unit.
Three miles is too far to walk.
Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.
Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
Exceptions: - Ten dollars (i.e., dollar bills) were scattered on the floor.
Rule 9. Some collective nouns, such as family, couple, staff, audience, etc. may take either a singular or a plural verb, depending on their use in the sentence.
E.g. - The staff is in a meeting.
Staff is acting as a unit.
- The couple disagree about disciplining their child.
The couple refers to two people who are acting as individuals.