Plurals of foreign words in English

New words have come into the English language for about 1,600 years. Some have arrived from other languages fairly recently. They are still 'foreign' words.

These words create a problem for writers how do you write the plural? Words ending with -o are particularly difficult. Here is a list of over 100 of these words, showing you the singular and plural forms.

In some case, there are two plural forms. Preferences differ, depending on (a) which country you live in, and (b) the context in which you are using the word. This list is based on Australian usage. Check with your local expert!

SINGULAR

PLURAL

addendum

alga

alumnus

(USA, a male former student)

alumna

(USA, a female former student)

analysis

antenna

apex

appendix

aquarium

armadillo

atrium

automaton

avocado

axis

bacillus

bacterium

banjo

basis

bistro

bureau

cactus

calypso

candelabrum

cargo

casino

chateau

cherub

cockatoo

contralto

crisis

criterion

curriculum

datum (rarely used)

diagnosis

dingo

domino

dynamo

echo

ego

ellipsis

embargo

erratum

flamingo

focus

folio

formula

fungus

ganglion

graffito (not used)

grotto

gymnasium

hero

hippo

hippopotamus

hypothesis

index

innuendo

kangaroo

kibbutz

larva

lasso

libretto

locus

mango

matrix

maximum

medium

 

memorandum

millennium

minimum

moratorium

motto

narcissus

nebula

oasis

paparazzo

paralysis

parenthesis

pistachio

plateau

platypus

phenomenon

podium

portfolio

potato

radio

radius

ratio

referendum

rhino

rhinoceros

seraph

spectrum

stiletto

stimulus

stratum

studio

syllabus

symposium

synopsis

synthesis

terminus

thesis

tornado

torpedo

vertebra

veto

virtuoso

volcano

vortex

weirdo

zoo

addenda

algae

alumni

 

alumnae

 

analyses

antennas or antennae

apexes

appendixes or appendices

aquariums

armadillos

atria

automaton or automata

avocados

axes

bacilli

bacteria

banjo or banjoes

bases

bistros

bureaus, bureaux

cactuses, cacti

calypsos

candelabra

cargos or cargoes

casinos

chateaus, chateaux

cherubs, cherubim

cockatoos

contraltos, sometimes contralti

crises

criteria

curricula, sometimes curriculums

data (computer use, singular)

diagnoses

dingoes

dominoes

dynamos

echoes

egos

ellipses

embargoes

errata

flamingos or flamingoes

foci

folios

formulas

fungi, funguses

ganglia

graffiti (also used as singular)

grottos or grottoes

gymnasiums or gymnasia

heroes

hippos

hippopotami or hippopotamuses

hypotheses

indexes, indices

innuendos or innuendoes

kangaroos

kibbutzim

larvae

lassos or lassoes

libretti or librettos

loci

mangos or mangoes

matrices

maximums

media or mediums (in USA & Australia, media is also singular)

memorandums

millenniums or millennia

minimums, sometimes minima

moratoriums

mottos or mottoes

narcissuses or narcissi

nebulas or nebulae

oases

paparazzi

paralyses

parentheses

pistachios

plateaus or plateaux

platypuses NOT platypi

phenomena

podiums, sometimes podia

portfolios

potatoes

radios

radii or radiuses

ratios

referendums or referenda

rhinos

rhinoceroses

seraphs or seraphim

spectra

stilettos

stimuli

strata

studios

syllabuses, sometimes syllabi

symposiums or symposia

synopses

syntheses

termini or terminuses

theses

tornados or tornadoes

torpedoes

vertebrae, vertebras

vetoes

virtuosi

volcanoes or volcanos

vortexes or vortices

weirdos or weirdoes

zoos

 

 

 

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