Why do some nouns in English not take the plurality suffix in the plural form? Could you give me a list of plural nouns which don't take "-(e)s" suffix? For example, I know about "fish" and "sheep".

2 Answers 2


This question is actually quite broad. Irregular plural forms can arise for a variety of reasons. Wikipedia has a huge section on the subject, with six subsections: "Nouns with identical singular and plural", "Irregular -(e)n plurals", "Ablaut plurals", "Irregular plurals from Latin and Greek", "Irregular plurals from other languages", and "Words better known in the plural".

Wiktionary has a list of English nouns with irregular plurals.

Lastly, there are nouns that (depending on context) can be countable and uncountable, e.g. water, cheese, or email.


The largest category of non-inflected English plurals are common animal names, although this is not particularly predictable (sheep, deer). There is also a related class which use both an inflected and an uninflected form (fish/fishes), of which in some cases the uninflected form is only used in collective situations: six elephants, a herd of elephant, but again, they need to be learnt case by case. This form seems to apply most commonly to game animals. See also "head" in "twenty head of cattle".

  • 2
    On Goggle, "a herd of elephant" yields 124,500 hits ... "a herd of elephants" yields 2,450,000 hits.
    – AnWulf
    Jan 9, 2012 at 14:30
  • Most of the names for common animals are anglo-saxon and had anglo-saxon plurals. When old-English simplified into middle-English it lost all the complex germanic cases and plurals. Except for some random reason ox->oxen
    – mgb
    Apr 25, 2012 at 15:06
  • @AnWulf. Google is the expression of the uneducated masses, the quality is mediocre. Wikipedia is the study of that mediocrity. May 24, 2015 at 8:40
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    May 14, 2023 at 18:01

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