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Give the feminine form or word corresponding to mayor, bullcalf, murderer, milkman, ogre, peacock, marquis, testator, czar, sultan, fox, earl.

2. Give the masculine form or word corresponding to roe, hind, nun, countess, landlady, doe-rabbit, abbess, traitress, margravine, spinster, bride, lass.

3. Write the feminine words corresponding to hero, giant, sorcerer, ram, stag, and the masculine words corresponding to duck, heifer, goose, empress, executrix.

4. Give two examples under each of the following heads:

(1) Nouns of common gender:

(2) Nouns in which the termination -ster is without a feminine force:

(3) Nouns in which the masculine has been formed from the femininę:

(4) Feminine Nouns without corresponding masculines.

[Only a few examples of (4) are to be found; e.g. brunette, dowager, milliner, laundress, shrew, virago.]

5. If we personify the objects indicated by the following names, which of them should we speak of as she?—Earth, Sun, Moon, Night, Death, Love, Nature, Winter, War, Justice, Time, Liberty.





90. Number is an inflexion which shows whether we are speaking of one thing or of more than one.


When we speak of one thing, the form of the noun is singular; when of more than one thing, the form of the noun is plural. In Greek there was a dual number with separate inflexions, used when two things were spoken of, and English once had a dual number in the personal pronouns. But the absence of a dual from modern English is not a matter for regret. It is enough to distinguish between one and more than one; to distinguish between one, two, and more than two, is a needless refinement.

91. The ways of forming plurals in English nouns are shown in the following classified scheme, which should be learnt by heart :


Table of Plural Forms.


Adds to the singular.

II. Add -es to the singular of—

1. Nouns ending in a sibilant, viz., s, z, sh, x, ch.


Nouns ending in ƒ sound, if of English origin and preceded
by / or by a long vowel; change ƒ into v.

Nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant; change y into i.
Some nouns ending in o.

III. Archaic or Old English forms:

I. Add -en, ox-en.


Add -er, child-(e)r-en.

3. Change the vowel: men, geese.

IV. Foreign forms:

JI. Ancient; seraphim, phenomena, appendices.
12. Modern; banditti, mesdames.


Remarks on the Table of Plural Forms.

I. The ordinary mode of forming a plural in modern English is to add -s in writing: thus a new word like telephone or cablegram takes s. If however a word is borrowed directly from a foreign language, it may retain the form of the plural which it had in that foreign language. Such a word is then said to be 'imperfectly naturalized'; it has not yet become an English subject.

Observe however that though we add s in writing, we often add z in pronunciation. We have seen that if a surd s is added to a word ending in a sonant, either the inflexion s or the last letter of the noun must be altered. Both sounds must be sonant or both must be surd; otherwise it is impossible to pronounce them in the same syllable. Thus we write slabs, pods, hogs, but we pronounce these words slabz, podz, hogz. To pronounce them slaps, pots, hocks, preserving the true sound of the s, would be to obscure the nouns themselves.

II. This inflexion in s is a survival of the older form of the plural in -es.


The inflexion es as a separate syllable is necessarily retained to make the plurals of nouns ending in a sibilant sound. For if we add s to words with s, z, sh, x, or ch, for their last letter, such as gas, topaz, bush, box, church, the s thus added cannot be pronounced. As we have seen, x is an abbreviation of ks, so words ending in a really end in The ch of which we speak here is the ch of arch, beech, and is really a compound of t+sh, so the sibilants enumerated above are reducible to three, viz., s, z, sh. The ch found in the Scotch loch takes s.


2. For the formation of plurals of nouns ending in an ƒ sound, it is impossible to state concisely a rule which shall cover all instances. The rule, as we have stated it, is rather complicated, yet some words evade it. The following nouns illustrate the rule: leaf, loaf, calf, wife, wolf, self, for these words are of English origin and the vowel is long, or, if short, theƒ is preceded by . On the other hand, the long vowel sound oo in roof, hoof, is not followed by -ves: these words take s. Staff, though of English origin and with long vowel, has for its plural

both staves and staffs. Strife, safe, brief, chief, proof, take s conformably with the rule, as they are not of English origin, but come from the French. But beef is exceptional in making beeves, as it is a French word. Wharf, dwarf, scarf, turf, are found with plurals in both forms, fs and ves.

3. There is hardly anything in the nature of an exception to the rule respecting nouns ending in y. A word like soliloquy, which makes its plural in ies, looks as if it were an exception, but it really follows the rule, for the combination qu has the force of kw, which is a consonantal sound. Perhaps the only established exception is flys, meaning 'carriages,' and inn-keepers can scarcely be blamed for refraining from advertising 'Flies on hire.' Some words in ey are occasionally found with their plural in ies, e.g. monies, but it is better to spell them according to the rule.

4. With regard to nouns in o, it is difficult to discover any principle which determines whether their plurals are in s or in es. Many of our words in o are of Italian origin, and these take s, as do all nouns in io. The nouns in o which take es are usually of earlier introduction. Cargo, echo, hero, potato, negro, take es: canto, solo, alto, piano, folio, oratorio, take s.

Observation and practice are required to enable us to form the plurals of nouns in ƒ or in o correctly. Rules are of little or no use for the purpose. Still it is our business in dealing with grammar to search out the principles, if such there are, on which the rules are based, although the rules when we get them may be insufficient guides.

III. Old English forms, other than es and which survive in modern English are few.

I. Oxen is the only modern English word which presents us with the form en simply. Chicken is not a plural form, though it is used as such in country districts. Kine is a double plural: cow in Old English modified its vowel to form the plural and became cy, as mouse becomes mice, and the plural inflexion en was also added. Swine however is not the plural of sow. In Old English several neuter nouns of one syllable, such as swine, sheep, deer, folk, underwent no change of their singular form when they were used in the plural number.

2. Child-er-en is a double plural, the er being one sign of the plural and the en another. No other word preserves for us the inflexion er with a plural force. Brethren is a double plural, brother having already modified its vowel to mark the plural, before en was added. But the -r- in brethren, unlike the in children, belongs to the original word, and is not an inflexion.

3. There are only six nouns, in addition to the double forms mentioned above, which change their vowel to mark the plural: man, foot, tooth, goose, mouse, louse.

IV. To those who know Latin and Greek, foreign plural forms seldom present any difficulty. People who have learnt no Latin sometimes make the plurals of neuter nouns wrong and talk of animalculæ or effluvia instead of saying animalcula and effluvia. Most of these nouns from dead languages can now be used with English plural forms: we can say formulas, memorandums, dogmas, as well as formula, memoranda, dogmata. Cherubim and seraphim are Hebrew plurals, but it is only in the language of religion that we use these forms. We speak of babies as 'plump little cherubs,' not 'plump little cherubim,' and say of a chorus of girls that they sing ‘like seraphs,' not 'like seraphim.' The forms cherubims, seraphims, are double-plurals.

93. The following paragraphs contain illustrations of various kinds of anomaly in the number of nouns. Anomaly means 'unevenness,' or 'irregularity.'

(1) Some nouns are used in the Plural without change of form.

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The following are examples: deer, sheep, grouse, the names of several sorts of fish,—salmon, trout, cod: also yoke ('five yoke of oxen'), brace, hundredweight.

(2) Nouns which seem Plural but are really Singular.

In the following words, the s is not a sign of the plural but is a part of the original word.

Alms: in O. E. almesse, borrowed through the Latin from the Greek root which we preserve in the word 'eleemosynary.'

Eaves in O. E. efese.

Riches: we took our noun from the French richesse, though we had the adjective rich in English.

Owing to a mistaken notion respecting the s in these words, they are treated as plurals: 'If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.'

(3) Some nouns Plural in form are sometimes treated as Singulars.

News always takes a singular verb and a singular demonstrative adjective: 'This news is not true,' not 'These news are not true.' Yet news is the plural of new just as much as bona, 'goods,' is the plural of bonum, 'good,' in Latin. Small-pox is a plural in disguise, for pox is really pocks: we have the singular in chicken-pock. Yet we never use a plural verb with small-pox.

Tidings, means, amends, pains, odds, wages, are treated sometimes as singular, sometimes as plural. To decide whether we are acting more

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