How To Pronounce Plural Forms of Nouns Ending in F



In today’s Short and Sweet I answer a question from one special listener from Guadalajara Mexico, how do we spell and pronounce plural words that end in FF, F and FE. Today’s episode is a bit different, hope you enjoy it :)


Hola amigos, you are listening to English Made Simple this is episode #85, numero ochenta y cinco.

Welcome to the English Made Simple Podcast, my name is Milena from You are listening to the Short and Sweet segment of the show. In this segment I would normally introduce you to the common English expressions but today I would like to answer a Question from one of our listeners.

But before I do that, how are you guys? How are you doing? Qué onda?? What’s happening? What’s up? Hope your week is going well.

Glad to hear you are doing well! Well…haha I hope your week is going well, awesome!

Now, let’s keep it short and sweet today, I am going to answer a question from one of my listeners, – Angel from Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s to do with plurals and more specifically plurals of nouns that end in F or FE. How do we spell them and how do we pronounce them. A great question. I will try my best to answer it in today’s short and sweet episode.

Thank you Ángel for bringing it to my attention. I am certain the rest of the listeners will be wondering the same, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain it in a bit more detail – to explain these special nouns.
So let’s begin shall we?

First of all amigos, as you know English language is full of rules (reglas) and full of exceptions to those rules. Instead of talking about thousands of exceptions, I am just going to call out two rules when pronouncing and spelling plural forms of the nouns that end with the sound ‘Ffffffff’. F, ok?
To make it easier for you to remember, let’s think about two magic numbers, just remember 2 rules when it comes to talking about nouns that end with ‘Ffff’ sound.

#1 rule – For the majority of words in the English language we simply add letter ‘s’ to imply plural form.
Like for example, 1 car, 2 cars. 1 pen, 2 pens. Right…we just add the letter ‘s’. These are called Countable nouns, easy peasy. Excellent!

Now, with the nouns that end in ‘ff’ simply add letter ‘S’ to make it a plural ok?
The spelling is not changed, we are just adding the letter S.

The word, for example, the word handcuff, has plural handcuffs. – This is what police use then they arrest somebody, they use it to handcuff criminals. You can use it as a verb as well. In Spanish this is called esposas.

Example: A policeman carries handcuffs with him just in case he needed to use them when arresting somebody. A policeman can put you in handcuffs if they had to restrain you. If you are causing trouble in the streets, they can put you in handcuffs. Right.
Now, there is also an exception to this rule, the word roof ends in 1 f. Not two Fs. In Spanish this is techo. For my non-Spanish speakers…roof…uhm.

Just imagine a house, a house has a roof. 1 roof or There could be many roofs. We simply add letter ‘s’ to this word. And it sounds like ‘s. Roofssssss. Like that ok? That’s one exception, just add ‘s’.

I will add more examples in the Facebook group English Made Simple Facebook group to help you remember this easily. If you are not part of the Facebook Group yet, I recommend you join the English Made Simple Facebook Group, you will be able to see more examples of these types of plurals.

Now let’s move onto the second rule, ok?

#2 rule – There are other words ending in f or fe that change their spelling and pronunciation. When it comes to spelling them, we simply replace f or Fe with 3 letters ‘ves’. V for Victory. VES.

More often than not, we would need to change the spelling from ‘F’ to ‘VES’. I see this type of spelling quite often actually. I will give you some examples.

Let’s consider the following words that you are already familiar with in their singular forms, for example – I will give you 5 words.

1. Wife – the plural of WIFE is WIVES. It almost sounds like Z at the end Zzzzzz.
2. Shelf – the plural of SHELF is SHELVES. We used this word in one of our previous episodes, if you remember, when we talked about the Supermarket. The word shelf in Spanish is “estante”. And in plural this is SHELVES, estantes.
3. Knife – the plural of KNIFE is KNIVES. For example, in the kitchen, I have spoons, forks and knives. It’s a funny word this one – KNIFE, letter K is silent. Yes there is K in this word. K N I F E. Knife. In Spanish this is Cuchillo. And the plural is Knives.
4. Life – the plural of LIFE is LIVES. For example, I have seen many things in my life (that’s a singular form). We have seen many things in our lives (plural). Another example could be: There were many lives lost during the Second World War.
The next word…
5. Wolf – The animal Wolf. This animal lives in the forest somewhere. The plural of WOLF is WOLVES. Can you see the difference?

The plural of WEREWOLF is WEREWOLVES. (Hombrelobo)

I hate werewolves, I avoid movies with werewolves in them. Scary creatures.

Right. Are you following me guys? Easy peasy japanesy so far?

I hope this episode was useful to you, just a quick burst of English grammar, if you will. I am sure that you already knew this yourselves. Ha! Yourselves – this is a plural of the reflexive pronoun: Yourself – a ti mismo.
Yourselves – ustedes mismos.
Yourself is singular, like myself, yourself (example) – ourselves, yourselves (plural).

So here we are amigos, I hope we are less confused than before! It’s all about practising at the end of the day, there is an English saying that goes something like this, practice makes perfect. The more you practice the better you become. And that’s what we need to do when we are learning about plurals. Unfortunately, we just need to keep practising! We can do it!

Enjoy the rest of the week guys. It’s been a pleasure, until next time amigos. Hasta la proxima!

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