Grammar: Number in nouns and formation of the plural noun number

The properties of the nouns are gender, person, number, and case.  

Number in nouns

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey

Number is that property of a noun which distinguishes one from more than one.

There are two numbers: singular and plural.

The singular number denotes one; as, apple, flower, boy, girl.
The plural number denotes more than one; as, apples, flowers, boys, girls.

Forming the plural 

1. Add -s

Nouns whose last sound will unite with the sound represented by s, form their plurals by adding s only to the singular.
book, books; boy, boys; desk, desks

2. Nouns ending in -s, -x, -z, -ch, or -sh

 Nouns whose last sound will not unite with the sound represented by s, form their plurals by adding es to the singular. 
 church, churches; box, boxes; witness, witnesses

3. Nouns ending in -y

Nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant, change y into i, and add es.
glory, glories; mercy, mercies.

4. Nouns ending in -f

Most nouns ending in f change f to v, and add es; those ending in fe; change f to v, and add s. 
leaf, leaves; wife, wives

5. Nouns ending in o

a. Most nouns ending in o preceded by a consonant, add es.

cargo, cargoes

b. Nouns ending in o preceded by a vowel, add s.

folio, folios

6. Irregular nouns

Some nouns form their plurals irregularly.
man, men; ox, oxen; tooth, teeth; mouse, mice

7. Symbols being used as nouns

Letters, figures, marks, and signs add ’s.
Mind your p’s and q’s; the 9’s and 11’s; the ’s; the +’s

8. Compound nouns

a. In compound words, the part which is described by the rest is generally pluralized.

brothers-in-law, courts-martial; wagon-loads, ox-carts

b. Compound words from foreign languages form their plurals according to rules 1 and 2 above.

tête-à-têtes, piano-fortes, ipse-dixits, scire-faciases

c. Some compound words have both parts made plural.

manservant, men-servants; knight-templar, knights-templars; ignis-fatuus, ignes-fatui

d. Compound terms composed of a proper noun and a title, may be pluralized by adding a plural termination to either the name or the title, but not to both.

the Miss Browns, the Misses Brown; the Messrs. Thompson; “May there be Sir Isaac Newtons in every science!”

9. Titles of respect

When the title is preceded by a numeral, the name is always made plural.
the three Miss Johnsons; the two Dr. Bensons; the two Mrs. Kendricks

10. Plurals used to clarify

Some nouns have two plurals, but with a difference in meaning.
brother, brothers (of the same family), brethren (of the same society); die, dies (stamps for coining), dice (for gaming); fish, fishes (individuals), fish (quantity, or the species); genius, geniuses (men of genius), genii (spirits); index, indexes (table of contents), indices (algebraic signs); penny, pennies (pieces of money), pence (how much in value); pea, peas (individuals), pease (in distinction from other vegetables)

11. Proper nouns

Proper nouns, and words generally used as other parts of speech, are changed as little as possible, and usually add s only in forming their plurals.
Mary, Marys; Sarah, Sarahs; Nero, Neros; The novel is full of ohs, bys, whys, alsos, and nos

12. Foreign nouns used in English

Many nouns from foreign languages retain their original plurals, changing us to i; um and on to a; is to es or ides; a to æ or ata; and x or ex to ces or ices.
calculus, calculi; arcanum, arcana; criterion, criteria; thesis, theses; ephemeris, ephemerides; nebula, nebulæ; calix, calices; index, indice
But wait! There’s more!

1. Abstract nouns

a. Abstract nouns and names of material substances have no plural forms
silver, vinegar, hemp, tar, frankness, darkness
b. When different kinds of the same substance are referred to, a plural form may be used.
sugars, vinegars, wines, oils

2. Nouns with no singular

a. Some nouns have no singular forms
ashes, assets, bellows, billiards, compasses, clothes, drawers, lees, scissors, shears, tongs
b. News and molasses have the plural form, but are regarded as singular.  
c. Lungs, bowels, and a few others, have a singular form denoting a part of the whole.
“The left lung.
d. Some nouns have no singular forms, but are singular or plural in meaning.
alms, amends, corps, mumps, measles, nuptials, odds, riches, series, suds, tidings, wages

3. Nouns of both number

Some nouns are alike in the two numbers.
sheep, deer, vermin, couple, salmon, trout, dozen, gross, hose, yoke

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