Friday fun: funny plural words

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day is a profitable email I receive each day, based on the reference work by Bryan A Garner. Today’s “Tip of the Day” was about the plural form of certain nouns (stay with me, here; fun just ahead).

Garner writes: Some words change in the plural from a final “-f” to “-ves,” but others simply become “-fs.” He then lists a few of the common ones —

“calf/calves,” “elf/elves,” “half/halves,”
“hoof/hooves,” “knife/knives,”
“leaf/leaves,” “life/lives,” “loaf/loaves,”
“scarf/scarves,” “self/selves,”
“thief/thieves,” “wharf/wharves,”
“wife/wives,” and “wolf/wolves.”


“Beef/beeves” (fattened cattle)

But do note, that there are some which don’t change:

“Beef/beefs” (types of meat or complaints),
“dwarf/dwarfs,” “handkerchief/handkerchiefs,”
“oaf/oafs,” “proof/proofs,” “roof/roofs,”
and “staff/staffs” (except in music).

And, the plural of “still life” is “still lifes.”

:) pdb

2 thoughts on “Friday fun: funny plural words

  1. The F to V ones have always been fun ones. But these days plurals are driving me slightly batty.

    When I was growing up, I was taught beer and deer and elk were both singular and plural. I went to college and majored in English and did nothing but librarian work and admit that my grammar has become subpar over the years.

    But listening to people saying beers, deers, and elks drives me nuts. It has even become the norm on t.v. shows and in movies. In an attempt to research any rule on this, I have found that many online sources are saying these are perfectly correct versions.

    Maybe I’m just too picky anymore.


  2. I always liked cow and kine, but I guess its acceptable to use cows now.

    Bovonics (i.e. pertaining to the study of things bovine), you gotta love it.

    English is a remarkably malleable language. (There’s a punch line with something do with beating it to death in there somewhere)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s