French Irregular Plurals

Some French nouns and adjectives have an irregular plural form. How to know? you need to learn them but the list is not big.

1. Words ending with -al or -ail:

Un cheval (a horse)  des chevaux
Un repas amical (a friendly meal)  des repas amicaux (masculine)

With adjectives like “amical” the plural feminine form is “amicales”

Some words ending in -al are regular:
Un festival  des festivals
Un bal (dance, a place where we dance)  des bals
Un carnaval (carnival)  des carnavals

Most of the words ending in -ail are regular with an S for the plural:
Un detail  des détails
Irregular form: -ail  -aux

Un corail (coral)  des coraux
Un travail (work)  des travaux

Ail (garlic) is special: un ail, des aulx, however most people in France prefer to say “donne moi de l’ail” instead of “donne-moi des aulx”, so “des aulx” is not really used.

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2. Words ending in -au, -eau, -eu:

These words require an -x at the end.
Un oiseau (bird)  des oiseaux
Un cheveu (hair)  des cheveux

Some exceptions are regular:
Un pneu (tyre)  des pneus.
Un crayon bleu (blue pencil) des crayons bleus

3. Words ending in -ou:

Most of them are regular:
Un trou (hole)  des trous

There is a list to learn with a plural in -x:
Bijou (jewel)  des bijoux
Caillou (stone)  des cailloux
Chou (cabbage)  des choux
Genou (knee)  des genoux
Hibou (owl)  des hiboux
Joujou (kids word for toy)  des joujoux
Pou (louse)  des poux (lice)
Ripou (crooked in French Verlan)  des ripoux

4. Very irregular:

Ciel (sky)  two plurals are accepted: des ciels, des cieux
Oeil (eye)  des yeux (des zieu)

Some plural have a different pronunciation:
Un boeuf (ox, beef) des boeufs (we don’t say the last consonants: des beu)
Un oeuf (egg) des oeufs (we don’t say the last consonants: des zeu)
Un os (bone) des os (we don’t say the last consonants: des zo, however des oss is also heard in France)

 

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And of course don’t forget that singular words ending in -S,-X,-Z have no plural: un gaz => des gaz, une voix => des voix…
Also some compound words like Monsieur => messieurs, Madame => mesdames.
Finally, last names have no plural: les Durand!

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