Spelling of plurals: when to add ‘s’ or ‘es’


In English, we mostly form the plural of a noun by adding ‘s’. However, in some cases we add ‘es’.

On this page we look at when to add ‘s’ and when to add ‘es’. We will also look at the pronunciation of ‘s’ and ‘es’.

When to add ‘s’:

The general rule for making a word plural is to add ‘s’:

  • 1 dog, 2 dogs, 3 dogs
  • 1 town, 2 towns, 3 towns
  • 1 book, 2 books, 3 books.

When to add ‘es’

1. When the singular form ends in -s or -ss:

  • 1 bus, 2 buses
  • 1 kiss, 2 kisses
  • 1 class, 2 classes
  • 1 business, 2 businesses.

2. When the singular form ends in -x:

  • 1 fox, 2 foxes
  • 1 box, 2 boxes
  • a reflex, all reflexes.

3. When the singular form ends in -ch:

  • 1 church, 2 churches
  • 1 witch, 2 witches.

4. When the singular form ends in -sh:

  • 1 dish, 2 dishes
  • 1 bush, 2 bushes.

Pronunciation of ‘s’ and ‘es’

At the end of a word, we can pronounce ‘s’ as /s/ or /z/.

1. After the following sounds we pronounce ‘s’ as /s/:

2. In all other cases we pronounce ‘s’ as /z/:

When we add ‘es’ the pronunciation is always /iz/:

Hear more examples of pronunciation in our Pronunciation section.