Plural -s

From Teflpedia

Plural -s is a plural suffix, found in English and other related languages, which are added to the singular form of count nouns to form regular plurals. It acts as a grammatical marker for plural grammatical number.

Form[edit | edit source]

Note that there may be some minor spelling changes. Words ending [C]y change to [C]ies, e.g. baby --> babies. But note that words ending in [V]y do not change, e.g. bay --> bays.

Words ending in certain sounds /s/, /z/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ take -es instead, unless singular ends in -e, in which case it just takes -s. For example, bus->buses, buzz->buzzes, church->churches, bush -> bushes, fromage -> fromages.

For the genitive form, to add the genitive 's morpheme, we add the apostrophe but not an additional s. e.g. "The teachers' holiday".

This suffix is notably also found in French and Spanish, some German words. In some French plural words this is an allomorph that is spelt -x, e.g. château - châteaux.

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Pronunciation is the same as for third person -s.

The final sound of the base word determines the pronunciation of plural -s:

  • /s/ for non-sibilant voiceless consonants /f/ (but see below), /k/, /p/, /t/, and /θ/ (but see below).
  • /z/ for vowels and non-sibilant voiced consonants /b/, /d/, /ð/, /g/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /r/, and /v/.
  • /ɪz/ for sibilants: /s/, /z/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/.

There are some exceptions to this; voiced plurals, see the final vowel sound change; particularly those ending /-f/ are voiced to /-vz/. E.g. "1 wolf, 2 wolves."

There is also arguably one devoiced plural; die-dice.

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

Plurals are typically introduced at a beginner level.

The plural marker can be confused, even by native speakers, with genitive 's, resulting in the infamous greengrocer's apostrophe.