23 words and phrases with odd plural forms

These terms seemingly defy English rules of spelling.

The rules of English spelling can be baffling.

Writers and editors see it daily. I recently had to check the spelling of “prerogative” because it couldn’t possibly be spelled “prerogative” (it is).

One area of spelling that is particularly challenging: finding correct plural forms. They can trip writers up, because they’re difficult to spell and difficult to pronounce.

Below are 23 tricky plurals:

1. antennae

2. asterisks

3. attorneys general

4. axes (plural of axis)

5. bases (plural of basis)

6. courts-martial

7. culs-de-sac

8. diagnoses

9. dos and don’ts

10. emphases

11. hippopotami

12. memos

13. mongooses

14. mothers-in-law

15. mottoes (plural of motto)

16. neuroses

17. oases (plural of oasis)

18. octopuses

19. parentheses

20. sheaves (plural of sheaf)

21. staves (plural of staff)

22. sylabi

23. yeses and nos

What others can you think of, Ragan readers?

A regular contributor to PR Daily, Laura Hale Brockway is medical writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

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