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.


  1. Noeline fernando - September 17, 2015, 2:28 pm Reply

    Thanks a lot it helps us to learn the proper reason to understand the reason why we do right it this way

  2. Adetola waziri - September 25, 2015, 6:08 am Reply

    I love your page… It’s well stated and very explanatory…

  3. kamran - September 27, 2015, 2:45 pm Reply

    why sites don’t say anything about “o” ending. For example: potato-potatoes, tomato-tomatoes

    • Anonymous - April 28, 2016, 6:48 pm Reply

      was just going to ask the same…logos, silos, casinos, avocados…no e

      • Anonymous - June 17, 2016, 6:44 pm Reply

        Ad es to all then will be plural nouns

  4. ngozi - October 1, 2015, 9:23 pm Reply

    It’s educating.

    • Anonymous - May 6, 2016, 6:16 am Reply

      hey how about f so wolf is wolves and about adding ies like flies but not if there is a vowel before it

  5. Kamal - July 24, 2016, 1:47 am Reply

    It’s a v helpful site. You have given appropriate words with examples which is very self explanatory but one suggestion I want to add if you can give more options like words ending with “O” then it would have be amazing.

  6. Siya - July 28, 2016, 1:09 pm Reply

    why does es comes in tomato .is that right to put es to words ending with o s

  7. Jen - November 4, 2016, 10:32 am Reply

    How about its revenue/its revenues?

  8. Tdenaro - January 12, 2017, 2:13 am Reply

    How would you spell ” Illness ” in order for it to be plural ?

    • Anonymous - April 22, 2017, 1:33 am Reply

      The second one, “illnesses”. Final s or ss requires an (es).

  9. Anonymous - August 7, 2017, 8:55 am Reply

    I maybe learn a lot here but maybe put some more plurals example

  10. Robin Lindsay-Kipp - January 20, 2018, 1:40 am Reply

    The most common way to pluralize a noun is to simply add an -s at the end.
    Hamburger (singular) becomes hamburgers (plural)
    College (singular) becomes colleges (plural)
    Nouns that end in a vowel followed by a -y take an -s in the plural.
    Monkey (singular) becomes monkeys (plural)
    Nouns that end in a consonant followed by a -y undergo a more dramatic change. First, the -y changes
    to an -ie and then an -s is added.
    Baby (singular) becomes babies (plural)
    Nouns that end in a sibilant (s, x, z, ch, sh) pluralize by adding an -es.
    Church (singular) becomes churches (plural)
    Nouns that end in an -is are replaced by -es in the plural.
    Thesis (singular) becomes theses (plural)
    Count nouns that end in -f pluralize by changing to a –ves.
    Calf (singular) becomes calves (plural)
    Nouns that end in -o preceded by a vowel usually pluralize by adding an –s. Nouns that end in -o
    preceded by a consonant usually pluralize with an –es. The nouns that do not follow this pattern are
    often words imported from other languages and take their plural form according to the rules of that
    Soprano (singular) becomes Sopranos (plural)

  11. Ruth Westcott - August 7, 2018, 12:47 am Reply

    can you please confirm which is correct:
    Compass Group commits to
    Compass Groups commitment to

    I am having a disagreement with my boss

    • Stuart Cook - August 8, 2018, 9:04 pm Reply

      I’m not sure of the context, but if we take them as they are then your first example is correct. The second is missing an apostrophe: Group’s, as it’s possessive.

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