17 Odd English Plural Quirks

The 17 Oddest Irregular Plural Nouns in English: A Comprehensive List Unveiling Linguistic Quirks

No Comments

Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Let’s dive into the wonderfully weird world of English grammar. It’s a journey where common linguistic rules often get thrown out the window, especially when it comes to irregular plural nouns. English isn’t always as straightforward as we’d like, and sometimes, it seems to have a mind of its own.

Take for example the multitude of oddball plurals that don’t follow the usual “add an -s or -es” rule. Ever wondered why we say ‘mice’ instead of ‘mouses’, or why ‘foot’ becomes ‘feet’? What about those truly unique words like ‘oxen’ and ‘children’? It can all seem quite puzzling!

In this article, I’ll decode some of these intriguing inconsistencies and provide you with a comprehensive list of 17 oddest irregular plural nouns in English. By understanding these oddities, not only will your grammar improve but you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and complexity that is the English language.

The Curious Case of Irregular Plurals

English, as I’ve come to learn, is a fascinating language filled with oddities and exceptions. One such peculiarity lies in the realm of irregular plurals. We’ll be exploring this interesting topic today.

Now, most English nouns follow a simple rule for forming their plural forms – add an ‘s’ or ‘es’. For example: one book becomes two books; one dish becomes two dishes. But then there are those that refuse to play by the rules, and it’s these rebellious terms we call irregular plurals.

Take “goose”, for instance. By regular standards, you might guess its plural form as “gooses”. But English being playful as it is, says no! The correct term is actually “geese“. Similarly, “man” turns into “men“, not “mans”.

On my journey through the winding paths of English grammar, I’ve stumbled upon several more examples:

  • Tooth -> Teeth

  • Mouse -> Mice

  • Cactus -> Cacti

  • Child -> Children

These words don’t just add an ‘s’ or ‘es’, they undergo a complete transformation!

And let’s not forget about those nouns that remain unchanged in their plural forms like sheep and fish. Or those borrowed from foreign languages retaining their original plural forms like criterion to criteria, or alumnus to alumni.

English isn’t content with throwing us just one curveball—it loves tossing handfuls at once!

But why does this happen? Well, it boils down to the roots of our language. Many words were adopted from Latin and Greek while others stem from Old English itself—all with different pluralization rules which we still use today.

To wrap up our first look at this intriguing topic: yes—English can be quirky and unpredictable—but that’s part of what keeps me captivated! Learning about these peculiar exceptions only makes me appreciate its rich tapestry even more. Stay tuned for more exciting revelations on our linguistic journey together.

Understanding the Quirkiest Examples

When it comes to irregular plural forms, they can be quite puzzling. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Let’s dive into some of these oddities.

Let’s begin with a classic example: “tooth” and its plural “teeth”. This linguistic transformation is known as a vowel change, where the singular word’s vowel sound shifts to form the plural. It’s similar to “foot” becoming “feet”, or “mouse” turning into “mice”. Quite strange, isn’t it?

Another category of irregular plurals are those that don’t change at all – their singular and plural forms are identical! Take for instance, sheep, deer, and aircraft. No matter how many you’re referring to, they remain steadfastly the same.

Then we have words which become an entirely new entity when made plural. Ever heard of a single piece of bacteria? Nope! That’s because its correct term is a bacterium – but in plurality it changes to bacteria!

Here are few more quirky examples:









I bet you didn’t see those coming! The English language never fails to keep us on our toes.

Finally, let’s not forget about the foreign loanwords that have retained their original plurals from their native languages. An example is ‘cactus’. In its Latin origin, the plural form is ‘cacti’, though ‘cactuses’ has been accepted in modern English too.


  • Irregular plurals don’t follow regular conventions for adding –s or –es.

  • Some words maintain their singular form even when used as plurals.

  • A handful undergo complete transformations.

  • Foreign loanwords may adhere to rules from their original languages.

These peculiarity indeed make English an interesting language study!

Wrapping Up: The Oddities of English Plurals

I’ve journeyed through the quirkiest corners of English plurality, from “oxen” to “children”, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration as much as I have. Each irregular plural noun offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and evolution of language, showing us that rules in English are often more like guidelines.

Let’s take a moment to recap some of these oddballs:

  • Man – Men

  • Woman – Women

  • Child – Children

  • Ox – Oxen

  • Mouse – Mice

Aren’t they intriguing? These plurals don’t follow the usual “-s” or “-es” pattern we’re accustomed to. Instead, they dance to their own beat, changing vowels or tacking on unique endings all their own.

Take for instance ‘mouse’ which becomes ‘mice’. Here’s how it could be used:



There is one mouse in my house.

There are many mice in my house.

I also find it interesting that some plurals have multiple forms like “indexes” versus “indices”. It reminds me just how versatile and dynamic our language can be.

In all honesty, English plurals can be quite perplexing at times. But remember that every peculiarity tells a story—of cultural influence, historical shift, or linguistic innovation—that contributes to the rich tapestry of our language.

So next time you stumble upon an irregular plural noun, don’t dismiss it as an anomaly; instead appreciate it for what it really is—an embodiment of the ever-evolving nature of language itself!

Leave a Comment