The Plural of Nouns

Just like in English, when a French noun refers to more than one person, place, thing, idea, or quality, it must be made plural. Keep in mind that when changing the noun to the plural, its respective article must also change to the plural.

Using a plural article before a noun does not enable you to determine the gender of any noun. The only information provided by plural articles is that the speaker is referring to more than one noun. You can only learn noun genders by studying each noun with its singular article.

Most nouns in French are made plural by simply adding an unpronounced s to the singular form:

  • la famille becomes les familles
  • un élève becomes des élèves

The letters s, x, and z are all used to make plurals in French. If a singular noun ends in any of these letters, its plural form remains unchanged:

  • The plural of le corps (body) is les corps (bodies)
  • The plural of le prix (price) is les prix (prices)
  • The plural of le nez (nose) is les nez (noses)

Common words that end in s and x are:

  • l'ananas m. (pineapple)
  • le bus (bus)
  • le bas (stocking)
  • le bras (arm)
  • le colis (package)
  • la fois (time)
  • le héros (hero)
  • le palais (palace)
  • le pardessus (overcoat)
  • le pays (country)
  • le repas (meal)
  • le tapis (rug)
  • la voix (voice)
  • la croix (cross)

Other plurals are formed as follows:

Nouns ending in eau add x to form the plural:

  • le bateau (boat) becomes les bateaux (boats)
  • le bureau (office, desk) becomes les bureaux (offices, desks)
  • le cadeau (gift) becomes les cadeaux (gifts)
  • le chapeau (hat) becomes les chapeaux (hats)
  • le château (castle) becomes les châteaux (castles)
  • le couteau (knife) becomes les couteaux (knives)
  • le gateau (cake) becomes les gateaux (cakes)
  • le manteau (coat) becomes les manteaux (coats)
  • le morceau (piece) becomes les morceaux (pieces)
  • l'oiseau (bird) becomes les oiseaux (birds)
  • le rideau (curtain) becomes les rideaux (curtains)

Nouns ending in eu add x to form the plural, except that le pneu (tire) becomes les pneus (tires):

  • le cheveu (a single hair) becomes les cheveux (many hairs)
  • le jeu (game) becomes les jeux (games)
  • le lieu (place) becomes les lieux (places)
  • le neveu (nephew) becomes les neveux (nephews)

Nouns ending in al change al to aux , except for le bal (ball), which become les bals (balls) and le festival (the festival), which becomes les festivals (the festivals):

  • l'animal (animal) becomes les animaux (animals)
  • le cheval (horse) becomes les chevaux (horses)
  • l'hôpital (hospital) becomes les hôpitaux (hospitals)
  • le journal (newspaper) becomes les journaux (newspapers)

Some nouns ending in ou add x to form the plural:

  • le bijou (jewel) becomes les bijoux (jewels)
  • le genou (knee) becomes les genoux (knees)
  • le joujou (toy) becomes les joujoux (toys)

Useful irregular plurals include the following:

  • l'œil m. (eye) becomes les yeux (eyes)
  • le travail (work) becomes les travaux (works)
  • madame (Mrs.) becomes mesdames
  • monsieur (Mr.) becomes messieurs

Most compound nouns (nouns made up of two nouns that are usually joined by a hyphen) do not change in the plural. Remember, however, to change their respective articles:

  • l'après‐midi (afternoon) becomes les après‐midi (afternoons)
  • le gratte‐ciel (skyscraper) becomes les gratte‐ciel (skyscrapers)
  • le hors‐d'œuvre (appetizer) becomes les hors‐d'œuvre (appetizers)
  • le rendez‐vous (meeting) becomes les rendez‐vous (meetings)

But:

  • le grand‐père (grandfather) becomes les grands‐pères (grandfathers)
  • la grand‐mère (grandmother) becomes les grands‐mères (grandmothers)
  • le grand‐parent (grandparent) becomes les grands‐parents (grandparents)

Just as in English, some words in French are always plural:

  • les ciseaux m. (scissors)
  • les gens m. (people)
  • les lunettes f. (eyeglasses)
  • les mathématiques f. (mathematics)
  • les vacances f. (vacation)

Some nouns are singular but refer to a group of people. Make sure to use a singular verb that agrees with these subjects:

  • le public (audience)
  • la foule (crowd)
  • tout le monde (everybody)
  • la famille (family)
  • le groupe (group)
  • la police (police)

In French, last names do not add an s in the plural as they do in English:

  • Les Renard (the Renards)
  • Les Lescaut (the Lescauts)