The singular and plural number of nouns

So, today we are going to consider the topic "the singular and the plural number of nouns". We have two news, and both are good! Nouns in French do not inflect, as well as the plural is formed according to one standard with rare exception. So, in general, and in general, the situation with nouns is not so scaring. Let's explore all these pluses about the number of nouns!

The basic rule is:

  • The plural form of nouns is created by adding -s, to a singular number;
  • If in the singular form the noun ends in -s or has the endings -x or -z, the plural number has the same form as the singular one.

How is it possible to understand this French language? With the help of an article! It is the article that identifies the number for nouns in French. Also, the number of the noun can be determined by the adjective (which? what?) or by the predicate (what the object does).

For example:

un homme — des hommes (a man - men)

un loup — des loups (a wolf - wolves)

une femme — des femmes (a woman – women)

un fils [fis] — des fils (a son - sons)

une croix — des croix (a cross - crosses)

un nez — des nez (a nose - noses)

Some nouns, that end with -au, -eau, -eu, do not like to take the ending -s, so they form a plural with the -x ending:

un bijou — des bijoux (jewel — jewels)

un caillou — des cailloux (a cobblestone — cobblestones)

un chou — des choux (a cabbage-head — cabbage-heads)

un genou — des genoux (a knee — knees)

un hibou — des hiboux (an owl — owls)

un joujou — des joujoux (a toy — toys)

un pou — des poux (a louse — louses)

But the nouns with the ending -al behave very boldly and defiantly and do not want to conjugate according to the general rule! And you know what? In the plural, they prefer to end with -aux:

un journal — des journaux (a newspaper — newspapers)

un animal — des animaux (an animal — animals)

un canal — des canaux (a channel — channels).

It seems easy to understand the number of nouns, but exceptions will never let us relax. Nouns ending in -al:

un bal — des bals (a ball — balls)

un carnaval — des carnavals (a carnival — carnivals)

un chacal — des chacals (a vulture — vultures)

un festival — des festivals (a festival — festivals)

un régal — des régals (sweets)

Some nouns ending in -ail have similar behavior (with those that end in -al):

un bail — des baux (rental agreement — rental agreements)

un émail — des émaux (enamel)

un soupirail — des soupiraux (a hatchway - hatchways)

un travail — des travaux (work)

un vantail — des vantaux (a leaf - leaves)

But other nouns ending in -ail still prefer to remain faithful to our ending -s:

un détail — des détails (a detail — details).

Ah, here they are our exceptions, which cross out any rules of grammar of French language – meet them!

un aïeul — des aïeux (an ancestor — ancestors)

un ciel — des cieux (a sky — skies)

un oeil — des yeux (an eye — eyes)

And finally, a couple (or rather, three) of nouns that have a change in pronunciation, while changing their number:

un boeuf [boef] — des boeufs [bø] (a bull - bulls)

un oeuf [oef] — des oeufs [ø] (an egg - eggs)

un os [əs] — des os [o] (a bone - bones)

If you want to learn French yourself, be prepared for the complexities with the formation of the number of compound nouns. But this is another story ... Do you want to know about this? Then sign up for a trial lesson or ask our teachers!

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