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The plural of French nouns


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In general French nouns form their plural by adding an –s (unpronounced) to the singular form of the noun. But there are some exceptions:

  1. French nouns ending in –au, -eau, -eu add x in plural
    Example: un bureau - des bureaux, un feu - des feux
    Except of: un landau (pram (GB), baby carriage (US)) – des landaus, un sarrau (smock) – des sarraus, le bleu (blue) – les bleus, un pneu (tyre (GB), tire (US)) - des pneus

  2. 7 French nouns ending in –ou also add x in plural:
    un pou (louse) – des poux, un hibou (owl) – des hiboux, un chou (cabbage) – des choux, un joujou (toy) – des joujoux, un genou (knee) – des genoux, un caillou (stone) – des cailloux, un bijou (jewel) – des bijoux

  3. French nouns in –al form -aux in plural
    Example: Un cheval (horse) - des chevaux; un journal (newspaper) - des journaux
    Except of: un cal (callus) – des cals, un bal (dance, ball)- des bals, un carnaval (carnival) – des carnavals, un pal (stake, pale) – des pals, un récital (recital) – des recitals, un régal (treat) - des régals, un festival (festival) – des festivals, un chacal(jackal) – des chacals

  4. French nouns ending in –ail form -aux in plural
    Example: le travail (work) - les travaux
    Exception: un détail (detail) - des details; un chandail (sweater) – des chandails; un éventail (fan) – des éventails

  5. When French noun in singular ends in –s, -x or –z it remains unchanged in plural.
    Example: un cas (case) - des cas; une voix (voice) - des voix; un nez (nose) - des nez

Some French words can be used only in plural:
des ciseaux (scissors)
les frais (expenses, charges)
les gens (people)
des lunettes (eyeglasses)
les mathématiques (mathematics)
des vacances (vacation)

Irregular French nouns

Certain French nouns are irregular and have different forms in singular and plural.
Example: un œil (eye) - des yeux; le ciel (sky) – les cieux; Madame - Mesdames; Monsieur – Messieurs; Mademoiselle - Mesdemoiselles.

In most of cases the pronunciation of the singular and plural forms of French nouns does not change, except of:
un œuf (egg) – des œufs (in singular is pronounced /œf /, but in plural –fs is not pronounced: /ø/)
un bœuf (bullock) - des bœufs (in singular is pronounced /bœf /, but in plural –fs is not pronounced: /bø/)
un os (bone) - des os (the –s is pronounced in the singular: /ɔs/, but not in the plural: /o/)



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