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10 Rules of Plurals: Team Spelling Test


Today's Snack: "Plural" means more than one. What's an after-school snack that just one is not enough, and you need plurals? How about sunflower seeds? You need a lot of those to feel satisfied. Give each student a quantity of sunflower seeds, and a small zip-lock bag or other container in which to spit the seeds. Drink a glass of fruit juice, and you only need one glass - no plurals.




Print out this Treat | scissors | chalkboard or whiteboard

Scratch paper and pencils for a 10-word spelling test

Prizes for the winning team



1.      Cut these rules apart into strips.


2.      Give strips to pairs of students, or teams of students.


3.      Let them memorize them and have a turn at the board, teaching that rule to the other students.


4.      Each team should think of a new spelling word, or example sentence in which students tell which verb form (singular or plural), that fits under that rule for a spelling test, or choose one of the examples.


5.      When each team has presented its rule and given the leader a new spelling word, the leader should pass out scratch paper to each team and give the spelling test. They can take it as a team, deciding among themselves what the correct spelling is for each of the 10 words.


6.      Give a prize to the team whose members did the best on the test.








For some words that end in -o, add an 'es to make it plural:


potatoes, tomatoes, heroes, echoes





For other words that end in -o, you add only an -s. You just have to memorize which ones:

autos, altos, twos, zoos, pianos, solos





Words that end in a consonant followed by -y are made into plurals by changing the -y to an -i and adding -es:


lady/ladies, candy/candies, penny/pennies





Words that end in a vowel followed by -y are made into plurals simply by adding an -s:


Monday/Mondays, joy/joys, key/keys, buy/buys





Words that end in an -f are pluralized by changing the -v to a -v and adding -es:


leaf/leaves, wolf/wolves, knife/knives, wife/wives





There are exceptions to the rule about pluralizing words that end in -f. They include:


chefs, cliffs, roofs, chiefs, oafs, beliefs





Some words are "collective nouns." There are two types: singular and plural. A singular collective noun may look and sound as if it is a plural noun because it groups together lots of people, animals or objects. But it is singular and takes the singular form of the verb as one unit:




So you would write "the crowd is shouting" and "the team won its game."





The other type of "collective noun" also stands for a group of people or objects, and can be singular or plural. It depends on how the collective noun is used. If you are zeroing in on individuals within that group, then you probably would treat it as a plural.





"The children are coming," "the geese are honking," "the congregation opened their hymnals"





A few words that end in an -s would seem to be plurals. But they're not. They're treated as singular in form and are spelled the same however they are used:




"politics is a difficult business," "the news is not good"





Some words that come to us from languages other than English have plural forms that are spelled differently. You just have to memorize these:


Alumnus/alumni; analysis/analyses; cactus/cacti




By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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