Let’s Talk About Nouns- Part II

In our first post regarding nouns click here to read it we left off on proper nouns and surnames and how to make them plural.

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So let’s start this post with how to make a compound noun plural. Compound nouns may be written as solid words, they can also be hyphenated, or appear as separate words.

Solid words- when written as single or solid words, compound nouns for the plural by changing the final element. For example:

bookshelf becomes bookshelves, footnote becomes footnotes, stepchild becomes stepchildren, and photocopy becomes photocopies

**Exception- passerby becomes passersby**

Hyphenated words- when written as hyphenated words the compound nouns become plural by making appropriate changes to the principal or most important noun. For example:

editor-in-chief becomes editors-in-chief, mayor-elect becomes mayors-elect, and mother-in-law becomes mothers-in-law

**If a hyphenated compound noun does not have a principal noun, the final element is made the plural. For example:

cure-all become cure-alls, look-alike becomes look-alikes, trade-in becomes trade-ins, and know-it-all becomes know-it-alls**

Open form or separate words- when written in separate words the plural is added to the principal noun. For example:

bill of lading becomes bills of lading, a board of director becomes boards of directors, leave of absence becomes leaves of absence, and paper clip becomes paper clips

Foreign Nouns

Nouns that are borrowed from foreign languages may retain a foreign plural. These can be confusing, therefore if you have questions about their proper use make sure to double check with a dictionary.

Special Nouns- are those that may end in s and can be either singular or plural in meaning.

Examples of those that are usually singular: billiards, mathematics, news, genetics, or mumps. (usually, they refer to games, fields of study, or diseases.)

Examples of those that are usually plural: clothes, earnings, pants, pliers, and thanks. (usually, clothing or tools)

Examples of those that can be singular or plural: corps, deer, moose, headquarters, politics, sheep, and Vietnamese. (usually animals or nationalities.)

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In the next post about nouns, we will look at the possessive. Until that time, cheers.

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