Plurals are one of the trickier concepts in the English language to grasp because there are so many irregularities. While plurals may look daunting, they are vital, and knowing how and when to use them is an essential part of learning English.
You can use two plurals in a sentence and more if necessary. When using more than two plurals in a sentence, you just need to make sure that you follow the rules, using plurals in agreement with nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
Before we jump into how and when to use two plural words in a sentence, let’s quickly examine what exactly a plural is and review how we form plurals. Then we can look at how plurals work with other parts of speech, including nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
What Makes a Word Plural?
A plural word is a word indicating a quantity of more than one. A plural word can represent more than one person, animal, place, food, or even idea.
Parts of speech such as nouns can have both a singular form and a plural form. The singular form concerns itself with one, while the plural form deals with more than one (source).
- Singular: Apple
- Plural: Apples
In order to make a noun plural, you add an “s” or an “es.” However, there are irregular and regular plurals in the English language. While there are sometimes patterns, irregular plurals usually have to be memorized.
- Regular: Dog/Dogs
- Irregular: Goose/Geese
Let’s quickly look at the table, which briefly summarizes how to make a word into a plural. You may be familiar with the rules already, so you can just quickly review them below (source).
|Regular nouns||Add an -s||Cat — Cats|
Apple — Apples
|Noun ends in ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z||Add an -es||Church — Churches|
Fish — Fishes
Bus — Buses
Fox — Foxes
|Nouns ending in -s or -z||Sometimes you must double the -s or -z and then add e-es||Gas — Gasses|
|Noun ending in ‑f or ‑fe||Change -f or -fe to a -ve and then add an -s||Wife — Wives|
Knife — Knives
Exceptions: roof, chief, chef
|Noun ends in -y and the letter before is a consonant||Change -y to -ies||City — Cities|
Penny — Pennies
|Noun ends in -y and the letter before is a vowel||Just add an -s||Boy — Boys|
Day — Days
|Noun ends in -o||Add an -es||Potato — Potatoes|
*halo, photo, piano
|Noun ends in -us||Replace -us with -i||Cactus — Cacti|
|Nouns which don’t change||Some nouns remain the same, whether singular or plural||Sheep — Sheep|
Deer — Deer
|Irregular nouns||Don’t follow a pattern and need to be memorized||child — children|
woman — women person — people mouse — mice
Plurals and Nouns
Nouns are the most frequently pluralized parts of speech in the English language. This is because nouns are the largest word class in the whole English language.
A noun is a word that alludes to a person, place, thing, or event. Most importantly, nouns can be in both singular form and plural form.
How to Identify a Regular Plural Noun
You can identify a regular noun by remembering the two basic rules. When making a plural from a singular noun, the basic rule is to add an -s. However, if the noun ends with ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, you add ‑es to make it plural.
- Dog — Dogs
- Bus — Buses
Regular Nouns in Sentences
When dealing with regular nouns, you can easily find two plural nouns in a sentence, especially if you are making a list, like this:
- I am going to buy apples, pears, oranges, and blueberries.
Plurals and Pronouns
You can have two plurals in a sentence when you have a plural form of a personal pronoun.
Pronouns are a type of noun. In fact, they are a subcategory used in place of nouns. Pronouns can break down into smaller categories but, for now, let’s just focus on personal pronouns.
Let’s take a look at the pronouns below. We can divide them into three categories, namely, first-person, second-person, and third-person pronouns.
First-person pronouns: talking about oneself.
- Singular: I or me
- Plural: we or us
Second-person pronouns: talking to the listener or reader.
- Singular: you
- Plural: you
Third-person pronouns: talking to someone or something else.
- Singular: he, him, she, her; it
- Plural: they; them
Let’s look at the following examples:
- We learned about the Egyptians today at school.
- You must all read more books.
- They baked muffins today.
Each of these sentences contains both a plural pronoun and a plural subject.
Plurals and Possessives
Another instance where you are likely to find two plurals in a sentence occurs when possession is on a plural noun. If the plural noun ends in -s, then we use an apostrophe to show possession.
- The twins’ bedrooms are very untidy.
However, if the plural noun ends in any other letter, apart from an -s, we use an apostrophe and an -s.
- The children’s toys are littering the floor.
You may like to explore a little more about possessives and how they differ from plurals.
A noun adjunct is when you use two plural nouns next to one another. The rule here is that the first noun stays singular while the second noun becomes plural. This is because the first noun is modifying the second noun.
- Look at all those tree houses.
- Can you please pass the soup spoons?
Plurals and compound nouns can be quite a tricky concept to get right. In fact, native English speakers often get these wrong.
A compound noun refers to two nouns used together to form one single noun.
Examples of compound nouns include:
- bus stop
From the above examples, you can see that compound nouns don’t always use hyphens and sometimes appear as one word or two separate words.
The rule with plurals and compound nouns is that the primary nouns always get the plural. Where this becomes tricky is that the primary noun is not always first.
Let’s take another look at our examples in plural form this time.
- father-in-law becomes fathers-in-law
There are many fathers, not many laws.
- passerby becomes passersby
There are many passers, not many bys.
- bus stop becomes bus stops
There are many stops, not many buses
Fun Grammar Fact
Sometimes plural nouns act as singular nouns, such as mathematics and news (source).
Plurals and Verbs
It’s important to remember that plural verbs, unlike nouns, do not end in the letter -s.
- Singular: Sue bakes cakes.
- Plural: Sue and Ben bake cakes.
In the plural form on the verb, we drop the “s” from the singular form.
You can use two plurals in a single sentence if there is verb agreement between them. Verb agreement simply means that the subject in a sentence and the verb in a sentence must be in agreement in quantity.
Let’s look at two examples:
- The duck is swimming in the pond.
In this sentence, the subject is the duck, and the verb is swimming.
- The ducks are playing in the pond.
In this sentence, the subject is the ducks, and the verb phrase is are playing.
In these two examples, you can see that the singular of a plural subject must be in agreement with the verb.
When Can’t You Use Two Plurals in a Sentence?
There are two cases where you can’t use two plurals in a sentence: when they are uncountable nouns or adjectives.
If They are Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns are precisely what they say there are — uncountable. They are nouns that cannot be counted, such as water, sugar, hair, or music (source).
Sentences that use uncountable nouns do not take plurals.
For example, you cannot have a sentence:
- We drank waters.
In this sentence, there is only one correct plural, we.
You can, however, say:
- We drank bottles of water.
If It’s an Adjective
An adjective is a word used to describe a noun or a pronoun. The rule in English is that adjectives do not get a plural.
However, sometimes adjectives can be used as nouns, and then they are able to take the plural form. Some examples are famous, old, and rich.
- My grandparents live in a home for the old.
- Hospitals care for the sick.
- This restaurant caters to the rich and famous.
Plurals are a vital part of the English language, so it’s essential to learn when and how to use them correctly.
Plurals always act differently around other parts of speech, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with how they behave in the presence of nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
If you ever find yourself frustrated, just remember that there would only ever be just one slice of cake without plurals, which would be just sad.