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ESL Easy Quiz

A Funny Lot - Irregular Plurals

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “A funny lot” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “irregular plurals quiz”! If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

Most of the time, making the plural form of English words is simple enough... but there are a number which work differently and these are known as irregular plurals. See how many of these irregular plurals you know!

  1. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    Do you enjoy doing ... ... like this?
    If the original noun ends in a 'harsh' or 'buzzy' consonant like Z or X, or blended groups such as -SH and -(T)CH, the plural forms in a special way; we can't just add an S as we otherwise would normally do
  2. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    A lot of the early settlers moved abroad with their ...
    Two very common, slightly irregular forms here. Because they apply to 'ordinary human beings', you should know them!
  3. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    When my brother and I were small, we used to keep ... ... as pets.
    Some quite common nouns form their plurals by changing the sound (and spelling) of the main vowel, in the middle of the word: if you speak German, for instance, you will be quite used to this ('ein Land; mehrere Laender'). Other nouns, particularly names of species of animal, may not change at all in the plural: 'one lost sheep; 99 safe sheep'. It's good to know which creatures do which thing, at least among the common ones that you might see in people's homes, or in the countryside, and need to speak about
  4. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    We can't have our picnic here: there are far too many ...
    There is NO apostrophe in the plural in English, unless the plural noun also refers to ownership ('the boys' sister' = the sister of more than one boy). Also beware: nouns ending in -Y need to change in a different way. If the Y comes after another vowel, you can make it plural by adding an S as usual (boys / days / keys, etc.); but if the final Y is a vowel on-its-own, it needs to 'melt' into -IE- before you add the S. ('This rugby player scored many great tries during the nineteen-eighties')
  5. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    What was he doing with all those ... ... ?
    This is another, double example similar to Question 1. Think of the sound that's made when you light a match, and that may help you remember about how to form the plural of nouns that end in 'scratchy' consonants!
  6. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    Tourists really appreciate being able to make their ...
    For the plural of 'journey', see the note to Question 4; 'bus', meanwhile, follows the 'noisy-last-consonant' rule.
    Remember that there should not normally be any apostrophes in the plural form of an English noun. Any suggested answers here that have one, are 'dangerous distractors' and better avoided!
  7. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    These days on the High Street, you don't tend to see so many ...
    One of these is a perfectly normal plural; the other follows a 'rule' that we've already met. You should still be avoiding any apostrophes!
  8. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    I wonder how many ... .... they use at the chip shop in a typical week?
    There aren't many English nouns that end in -O, but we have 'borrowed' some from other languages and there are two different ways of making the plural forms. Usually we just add an -S, as we would for any other word ('foreign' or not), but there are a few quite common ones that take an extra -E- to help things along, such as 'tomatoes'; also 'echoes' and 'heroes'.
    And there aren't any false apostrophes on offer this time!
  9. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    'We'd like some fruit juice, please ...'
    You should be able to work this one out on the same basis as earlier questions in the Quiz. Note that 'glass' (in the singular) ends with a 'fizzy-or-buzzy' consonant; that should help get you started
  10. Choose the correctly-spelt version of the word (or words) that should fill the gap:
    The machine at the airport will detect metal objects such as ...
    One more 'scratchy-ending' noun for you to practise on; and be careful with the plural of 'knife'. If you speak any French, you will know what happens to the letter F in situations like 'un copain sportif / une copine sportive' ... English does the same when forming some quite common plurals: 'A cat has nine lives' (not just one life), as we say!

Author: Ian Miles

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