Irregular plurals

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Nearly all nouns in English form their plurals by adding -s (or -es) - the regular plural form. There are some irregular plurals in native English - for example, child - children, goose - geese, woman - women, sheep - sheep; but the vast majority of nouns form their plurals regularly.

In other languages, there are several different ways of forming plurals. Each group of nouns in a given language whose singular ends in one way tends to form its plurals in a particular, regular pattern. But another group, with a different singular ending, will normally form its plural in a different regular pattern.

In academic English, many words come from such languages. Most are from Latin and Greek, the ancient languages of Rome and Greece which were for centuries the languages of University teaching. Many of these words form plurals in ways other than using -s. These plurals may be perfectly regular in the original languages, but they look irregular in English. If you want to use academic vocabulary well, you should use the correct plurals of these words. Sometimes these are the forms from the original languages; sometimes they are not.

Many of these words are listed in this guide in Category:Plurals. There are also brief statements of some of the rules for the formation of plurals in the languages concerned.