Can You Name the Tricky Singulars of These Common Plural Nouns?


By: Bambi Turner

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you know the singular form of the word "knives"? What happens if you lose one half of a pair of dice - do you now have just one dice or something else entirely? And what are those serene desert-dwelling plants - are they cactuses or cactus or cacti? If you think you've got a good grasp of grammar, take this quiz to see if you can spot the tricky singular versions of these common plural words!

Grammer provides a structure to our writing and language, allowing us to communicate using an agreed-upon set of rules. It tells us how to turn something we will do into something we are doing, then into something we've done in the past. It also allows us to describe things around us, and using the correct forms of words can help you better communicate with others - and also make sure you get exactly what you are asking for.

When it comes to switching a word from singular to plural, however - or vice-versa - things can get a little complicated. Sure, in general going plural means simply adding an "s" to the end of a word. One cat or multiple cats, one drink or a couple of drinks. Easy, right? Not always. 

The English language is full of tricky exceptions to the rules, and these exceptions can throw you a curve ball just when you think you've finally mastered the rules of grammar. Think you can spot the singular versions of these common plural terms, even if they don't play by the rules? Take our quiz to prove it!

Do you know the singular form of fungi?

Yeast, mold and mushrooms are all examples of fungi. If you're referring to a single member of this group, however, you should use the term "fungus."


If you lose half of your pair of dice, you have one ________.

Roll the dice on this one! While these gaming devices often come in pairs, a single unit is referred to as a die.


The desert is full of cacti, but if you have just one sitting on your desk, you have a _______.

A cactus is an easy-to-care-for plant. If you want to fill a whole greenhouse with these plants, however, you're gonna need a whole lotta cacti.


If you suffer from a lot of conditions, your doctor might give you multiple diagnoses. Just one condition? Then you need a __________.

Seeking multiple opinions on what's ailing you? You can get several diagnoses from various professionals. If you're visiting your doctor to figure out what condition is causing that rash, you're seeking a diagnosis.


What's the singular form of media?

Believe it or not, medium is the single form of media. So one magazine is an example of a medium, while multiple books and movies can be described as media.


Yuck, algae! Down to just one? Then you've got ________.

You know that green stuff that grows on your pool when you forget to use chlorine? That's algae. If you take a single spore of the stuff and peer at it under a microscope, that's an alga.


Stand on your own two feet. If you stand on just one, you're standing on your _______.

Foot is one of those really irregular nouns when it comes from switching from singular to plural, because it doesn't really follow any of the standard rules. That means one of those appendages is a foot, while a pair are called feet.


Really complicated books feature multiple indices, but simpler ones often have a single one of these.

The index of a book tells you where you can find certain information. If the book has an index for people and a separate index for places, then that book features multiple indices.


Some people like to work with tons of data, while some like to focus on a single _______.

If you are a big picture person, you probably want to see all the data you can get your hands on. When you're drilling down to focus on just one detail, sometimes a single datum will do.


What's the single form of criteria?

If you're evaluating a purchase based on only one factor, you're considering only a single criterion. Got a long list of features you're hoping to find? Those features are known as criteria.


If one member of a flock of geese starts chasing you, you're running from a _______.

A single goose is just one bird. Once two of these birds are joining forces to chase you, you're facing a gaggle of geese.


You end up with a bunch of syllabi when you take a full load of classes. Taking just one class will net you a single ________.

A group of documents you get from your teachers on the first day on school is a stack of syllabi for your classes. If you decide to sign up for a single typing class once a week, you'll end up with a single syllabus.


Santa's elves make toys. If you were referring to just one of these tiny toymakers, you'd call him an _______.

A single elf can only get so much done on his own, but a whole workshop full of elves can make enough toys for every good girl and boy on the planet.


Nuclei can be found at the center of atoms. What do you call a single one?

The nucleus is the center of a cell. If you're talking about your entire body, you're talking about a whole heck of a lot of nuclei.


Life is full of amazing phenomena. If you take it one at a time, you focus on a single _________.

Shooting stars are natural phenomena. If you're lucky enough to spot one, you've witnessed one rare phenomenon.


What's the singular form of mice?

Mickey Mouse is just one mouse. Together, he and Minnie are a regular pair of mice.


Too many stimuli can be overwhelming, but just one - known as this - can be boring or just fine.

If you're watching TV, browsing the web and flipping through a magazine while music plays in the background, you're dealing with an incredible number of stimuli. Stick to just one stimulus at a time to limit brain clutter and live a simpler life.


Your back includes multiple vertebrae. What do you call just one of these bones?

Your spine is made up of many vertebrae. Injuring just one vertebra, however, can throw your entire body out of whack.


What's the singular form of millennia?

Dinosaurs lived many millennia ago. Around a single millennium ago, Viking Leif Eriksson was making his way to North America.


What's the singular form of antennae?

Insects have a pair of antennae. If they lose one to injury, they are left with a single antenna.


What do you call one of a group of larvae who hangs out alone?

A larva is an immature insect. When they hang out in groups, they are more correctly referred to as larvae.


Buried under piles of memoranda at work? Just focus on one _________ at a time.

A memorandum is a document used to distribute information. If you get hit with too many of these documents, you have a whole bunch of memoranda to read. (Or you can simply call them "memos.")


What's the singular form of wolves?

"Wolf" is one of those totally bizarre words when it comes to switching between plural and singular. A wolf is one mighty canine, while a pack of these animals is known as wolves.


What do you call one member of a group of oxen?

An ox is a mighty mammal, known for its brute strength. You won't believe how much work a group of them, known as oxen, can accomplish when they get together.


It's better to experience one of these than multiple crises at the same time.

Suffering from an emergency or crisis? You could always take comfort in the fact that you weren't slammed with a bunch of crises at one time.


What's the singular form of matrices?

A matrix serves as a singular framework or structure for ideas or development. If you have to consider multiple frameworks during planning, you are confined by multiple matrices.


These are knives, but this is a _______.

Knife is one of the trickier nouns to convert from singular to plural. Not only do you drop the "fe," but you have to add a "ves" for total correctness.


What's the singular form of scissors?

"Scissor" is a verb - like scissoring your legs. It's not a noun. "Scissors" is actually the correct term for both the singular and plural forms for this cutting tool.


Eating just one piece out of a bowl of cherries? You just chowed down on one of these.

Cherries are full of tart flavor and vitamins, but if you only want a small snack, a single cherry might be enough to satisfy you.


What's the singular form of dictionaries?

A dictionary will often include both the single and plural versions of a word, as well as its definition. If you want to look up words in more than one language, you'll need multiple dictionaries.


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