Although some basic rules apply in making singular words plural, there are exceptions. The most effective method is to learn the most commonly used rules and to keep a list of words that exemplify each rule. The exceptions have to be memorized.

The Most Common Rule

Step 1

Know and apply the most common rules. For example, most nouns are made plural by adding -s to the word. Add -es to nouns ending with -ch, -sh, x, z, and s.

Step 2

Memorize the rules for words that end in specific letters. For example, if a word ends in a consonant and a -y, you'll need to change the -y to an -i and add -es. Words that end in -f or -fe usually change the -f to a -v sound and end in -ves.

Step 3

Familiarize yourself with the spellings of the most common irregular plural nouns. Some, such as deer and sheep, don't change at all. Some change vowel sounds, such as man/men, woman/women, goose/geese, or tooth/teeth. Some have letters added to the end, such as child/children and ox/oxen.

Step 4

Know when to use an apostrophe to make a singular noun plural. Add an apostrophe when writing the plural form of a word that refers to the word itself, like "The teacher told me I used too many and's in my essay". An apostrophe is also used when making letters plural as in "He made three A's and four B's on his report card."

Step 5

When in doubt, check the noun's plural form in a dictionary. Occasionally, you will see more than one accepted spelling of the word. In those cases, use the form that is listed first.