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Miscellaneous, Words

Note 148 – Plurals of words ending in ‘-us’


There are many words of Latin or Greek origin which end in ‘-us’, however it is not always clear what the plural form is.  Do words like ‘hippopotamus’ and ‘octopus’ end in -es or -i? The website About.com explains that it is best to go with hippopotamuses http://homeworktips.about.com/od/plurals/f/hippopotamus.htm, whereas with the word octopus you apparently cannot go wrong if you guess the plural as octopuses, octopodes or octopi http://homeworktips.about.com/od/plurals/f/octopus.htm as they suggest that all of them are correct.

I found the best coverage about this subject on Wiki answers: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_make_words_ending_in_us_into_plural. They explain that you add -es to most words that end in -us; however, “words that come from latin, such as stimulus, nucleus, and radius, still act as they did in latin. That is, they end in ‘-i’: stimuli, nuclei, radii”.  There are exceptions like virus where the plural is viruses – the reason for this is explained in the Wiki answers link above. 

My thoughts: This was not as straightforward as I thought, although I have learnt a few new rules about awkward plurals today.

This blog forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/madeirasandra or my ‘Tips and Luxuries’ Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.

Until tomorrow…

Sandra

My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4

This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com

My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com

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Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

About.com: http://homeworktips.about.com/od/plurals/f/hippopotamus.htm

About.com: http://homeworktips.about.com/od/plurals/f/octopus.htm

Wiki Answers: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_make_words_ending_in_us_into_plural

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About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer www.sandramadeira.com

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Note 148 – Plurals of words ending in ‘-us’

  1. That’s why there are no hippopotamuses or octopuses in my novel. To darn hard to pluralize. Isn’t the English language annoying sometimes? Even when you take the time to do it right, it sounds wrong.

    Posted by Jennifer M Eaton | September 26, 2011, 3:36 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: How to Properly Punctuate Plural Letters « professorgirl - September 27, 2011

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