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How to Make French Nouns Plural Posted by on Mar 11, 2009 in Grammar

Making nouns plural in the French language can be a bit more complicated than English, but perhaps not.  Just like in English, you normally add an -s to the written form of the singular.  I say written form, because usually the pronunciation doesn’t change one bit when using a plural noun, except for the links from the article to the noun.  But, just as in English, there are exceptions, of course.

→ Nouns that end in -s, -z, -x do not change in the plural form.
un fils → des fils
un gaz → des gaz
une voix → des voix

→ Nouns that end in -eau, -au, -eu take on an -x in the plural.
un tableau → des tableaux
un tuyau 
→ des tuyaux
un jeu 
→ des jeux
Careful!!!  There are some exceptions to this rule.  un pneu → des pneus

→ There are seven nouns that end in -ou which take on an –x in the plural.
un bijou  → des bijoux
un caillou 
→ des cailloux
un chou 
→ des choux
un genou 
→des genoux
un hibou 
→des hiboux
un joujou 
→ des joujoux
un pou 
→ des poux

→ Some nouns that end in -ail or -al take on -aux in the plural.
un travail → des travaux
un corail 
→ des coraux
un émail 
→ des émaux
un vitrail 
→ des vitraux
un animal 
→ des animaux
un journal 
→ des journaux
un cheval 
→ des chevaux
un hôpital 
→ des hôpitaux

→ Others, however, follow the general add an -s rule.  For example:
un bal → des bals
un carnaval 
→ des carnavals
un festival 
→ des festivals

→ There are of course irregular plurals.
un œil → des yeux
un jeune homme 
→ des jeunes gens
un monsieur 
→ des messieurs
une madame 
→ des mesdames
une mademoiselle 
→ des mesdemoiselles
un ciel 
→ des cieux

→ Proper nouns do not change in the plural.  Only the article does:
les Goldman, les Roi, les Fabre.

→ However, an –s can be added to names of artists to when referring to their work.  For example: un Monet → deux Monets (in other words, two Monet paintings).

→ Some nouns are only used in the plural form.  Examples:
les environs, les gens, les mœurs, les vacances (holidays)

Finally, compound nouns have all sorts of different rules, so we’ll leave them for another article.
Till then, Bonne soirée (Have a good evening).

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Comments:

  1. Jack:

    What a wonderful additional learning tool. Today is the first time I saw it but from now on i’ll be a regular

    Jack

  2. james:

    Thankyou, was having trouble making nouns plurals for homework but now I fully understand. Thankyou

  3. aftab:

    plural was one of my weakest grammer topics..but after reading this…i feel its one of the easiest..thankyou!!

  4. zoe:

    thank you so much this makes it so much easyer to understand!!

  5. Sam:

    This was great!! Thanks for your help!