The plural forms of most English nouns are made by adding –s to the singular form. “Forms” and “nouns” from the previous sentence are perfect examples. However, many commonly-used English nouns have irregular plural forms. In the previous lesson, we looked at native English words that follow alternate pluralization rules. This time, we’ll turn our attention to words with foreign origins that have retained their plural forms from their original languages.
Plural Forms of Words of Latin Origin
Many modern English words have been borrowed from Latin. Most of these loanwords can be made plural by following either Latin or English pluralization rules:
|Singular||Latin Plural||English Plural|
A handful of specialized academic, scientific, and technical terms follow Latin pluralization rules only. These include:
Plural forms of Words of Greek Origin
Greek loanwords drop it the –is from the singular and add –es to form the plural:
Words of French origin than end in –eau can usually take either the French –x or the English –s:
|Singular||French Plural||English Plural|
With a handful of exceptions, words that have come to English from Italian discard their Italian plurals in favor of English plurals:
|Singular||English Plural||Italian Plural|
Notes: Some Italian loanwords, such as spaghetti, are derived from the plural forms. Ironically, these words are usually used singularly in English.
The singular paparazzo and plural paparazzi have survived the transition to English intact. These words refer to freelance photographers who chase after celebrities to obtain pictures of them, often without the celebrities’ consent.