Do singular nouns which end with consonant+ O turn into plural by adding -ES?

I'm a little bit confused because of conflicting information that I found in sites.For example: one site says that singular nouns which end with consonant + O turn into plural by adding -ES. For example, tomato > tomatoES. But when I thought about it a little bit, I was found that the singular noun photo which becomes to plural (photos) by S only having said that it should be "photoes" based on the mentioned rule. It cause me to have a doubt about this theory.

In addition, I found also another post that says that there is no rule for these singular nouns which end with O and students simply should only learn them. Then I'm not sure about this grammatical rule.

"Rules" for making plurals

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    These are the general rules, but they aren't always followed: zero can be zeros or zeroes in the noun form and in the third-person singular verbal form, it is always zeroes. Roof is normally roofs in modern English, but rooves does exist as an old-fashioned form that is almost never heard anymore. "money" can be "moneys" or "monies".
    – Nick
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 1:30
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    There are always exceptions... this is how we can spot the non-native speakers. Isn't English wonderful? :-( Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 3:50
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    Note that "photo" is actually short for "photograph" which is probably why it appears to break the above rules. The same is true for "tellys" which is short for "televisions". You still get the weird ones like "sheep" and "fish", though Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 3:52
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    @NicholasCastagnola: In the UK, at least, /ru:vz/ is often heard, although "roofs" is the standard spelling.
    – rjpond
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 18:20
  • Thanks, rjpond. I have heard people say "rooves" with a "v" sound and I've seen it written, so I put it in above; however, it's not that common.
    – Nick
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


English has few absolute rules, and this is not one of them. More recently coined or derived words are more likely to follow the "regular" pattern, and simply add "s". "photo" is an example of this, as is "auto". That both arose as shortenings (of "photograph" and "automobile") where the longer form would not use "es" to form the plural may have contributed.

The pattern of adding "es" to nouns which end with consonant+ O to form the plural is a common one, but far from invariable. The quoted rule for nouns ending in "f" or "fe" , to change this to "ves" will apply only to words which were common before the Great Vowel Shift. An interesting case here is "dwarf" The old plural, following the "rule" above is "dwarves". But this had become thoroughly obsolete, "dwarfs" being used in all cases. The form "dwarves" was restored to currency, at least as to members of a mythological race, essentially singlehandedly by the efforts and example of Prof J.R.R. Tolkien. The form "dwarfs" is still used for real people, and for plants, that are unusually short or small ("a dwarf maple tree" "This species includes many dwarfs").

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