10 terms with confusing plural forms

Have you ever called a group of octopuses ‘octopi’? If so, this article is for you.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

I studied French for eight years. During that time, I consistently lamented how many exceptions there seemed to be for each grammar rule.

It was exhausting simply trying to remember the rules, much less all the rebellious words that didn’t follow them.

However, my professors were always quick to remind my peers and me that we didn’t have it that bad—given that English has significantly more inconsistencies.

Related: Free download: 10 punctuation essentials

Even though English is my first language, I still learn something new about it almost every day. Take plurals, for example. Though there are quite a few rules about how to make words plural, many words and phrases fail to follow convention. Below are some that have given me trouble:

Alumnae: This refers to a group of female graduates. One female graduate is an alumna.

Alumni: This refers to a group of male, or a combination of male and female, graduates. One male graduate is an alumnus.

Attorneys general: Not that the “s” comes after attorney, not general.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.