Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am looking for a dictionary (program / app) that tells me about the plural form of a word.

I have tried Dictionary.com, Meriam-Webster and OED but they are not.

I know if I look for media, it will tell me it's plural of "medium", but is there a dictionary which does it the other way round? Thanks

share|improve this question
    
I don't know why was I given a downvote. I do face the problem and when I use it merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syntax I can't find the answer too. What's wrong with the downvote? –  cherhan Oct 5 '13 at 12:19
    
Those who has downvoted mind to give a reason ? Simply downvoting does not help at all –  cherhan Oct 5 '13 at 12:38
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

All these dictionaries give plurals for English noun that have irregular plurals. For example, Merriam-Webster here says "plural mediums or me·dia".

If one of these dictionaries does not explicitly give a plural for a noun, the noun has a regular plural, meaning you add an "s" or an "es". The rule is that if a word ends in the sound /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/ or /dʒ/, you add an "es" unless it already ends with an "e", and otherwise you add an "s".

Notice that this rule depends on the pronunciation. Words like conch that can be pronounced two ways (this is the only one I know of) can have two plurals: conchs or conches.

There are also rules for when you replace "y" at the end of a word by "ies", and when you just an "s", but the cases where you use "-ies" seem to be given explicitly by most dictionaries.

share|improve this answer
1  
I'm not the down voter ... it may have been somebody who didn't realize "regular plurals" were so complicated. I don't know what definition the dictionaries use for regular plurals ... I remember learning in grade school that you added an "es" after some set of letters, maybe "j", "s", "x", "z", "ch", "sh". This rule works fairly well (although it fails for words like Bach and rendezvous). –  Peter Shor Oct 5 '13 at 12:42
1  
Yes, but the variation in the plural of "mango" isn't caused by differing pronunciations; that's what I meant when I said "conch" was the only one I knew. –  Peter Shor Oct 5 '13 at 12:43
1  
I've downvoted this answer, because it is not the whole story. For example, -y becomes -ies unless preceded by a vowel, but this is regarded as part of the rule, not as irregularities. –  Colin Fine Oct 5 '13 at 14:53
1  
@EdwinAshworth The English used in the post might not be the perfect, but I don't think it is totally not understandable (at least for most people, they don't understand). Even if it is really the case (or with some grammatical flaws), I don't think the spirit is just to downvote instead of editing it and helping the OP to understand what went wrong and improve from there. I am not here to argue, just here to learn. –  cherhan Oct 5 '13 at 22:12
1  
@cherhan I didn't downvote, though I struggled to make sense of what exactly you were trying to say – especially when, as Peter says in his answer, at least some acceptable irregular plural forms are given in the dictionaries you mention. Wikipedia has a good article on plural nouns at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_plurals . If you're worried about any of its recommendations (or those in Wiktionary), you could always check those alleged usages on the net as a whole. It's what I do. –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 6 '13 at 22:38
show 9 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.