When to use “S” at the End of a Word?

What do you think does it mean when you hear someone saying, “I like pig!” or “I like dog!”?

This can mean only one thing: this person likes the taste of pigs or dogs! That’s what happens when you miss the “S” at the end of a noun when it should be there. The sentence has a completely different meaning. But when you say,

“I love pigs.”

“I love dogs.”

this means you like these animals as pets and you enjoy having them or playing with them. These are also grammatically correct compared to the first two sentences. Today, we will learn when to use “S” at the end of your words to convey the proper meaning of your sentences.

When you say “I like chicken!” that tells me you love eating chicken meat! If you say, “I like chickens”, this means you love having them as pets. When you enjoy pet chickens, cats or horses, always put your “S” at the end.

It will help a lot to remember these simple rules when using “S”:

RULE 1:

Always use “S” with countable nouns when it’s plural. So let’s review. What are countable and uncountable nouns?

Countable nouns (or count nouns) are those that refer to something that can be counted. They have both plural and singular forms, examples girl/girls, apple/apples, cat/cats, house/houses, etc. In the singular form, the article A or AN comes before them.

Uncountable nouns are for the things that we cannot count with numbers. They are names for ideas, qualities, or physical objects that are too small or too big to be counted. Examples are liquid, powder, gases, etc. Uncountable nouns are used with a singular verb.

Chad: WOW! So you have a lot of guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner. How many people do you expect?

Kim:  We expect 53 person.

So, Kim’s answer is wrong because “person” is a countable noun, and since it’s more than one (plural), you put an S there: persons.

Cashier: This pie costs 17 dollars.

Tim: Don’t worry, I have 20 dollar.

Again, in this scenario, Tim is wrong. Dollar is a currency and can be counted. So better to put an S there as well: dollars.

RULE 2:

If you only have one of something countable, you don’t need the S. So with singular countable nouns, there’s no need to add the S.

Example:

I have one dollar.

She has a car.

They have a brown horse.

My uncle owns one boat and two cabins.

Only ONE dollar, ONE car, ONE horse, and ONE boat. So there’s no need to add an S.

RULE 3:

This time, learn how to use S with several, a lot of, and many.

Several, a lot, and many are adjectives that give more information about the noun that comes after them. They determine the amount of something. They mean more than one. So, when using these adjectives, you need the plural form of noun, and so you must put the S at the end.

Wrong: There are several trophy on the shelf.

Correct: There are several trophies on the shelf.

Let’s break it down here:

are = plural verb

several = more than one

trophies = plural noun / more than one

Wrong: I have a lot of cat.

Correct: I have a lot of cats.

Wrong: This town has many hot spring.

Correct: This town has many hot springs.

Wrong: My city has many bridge.

Correct: My city has many bridges.

At this point, let me just mention that TOO MANY has an entirely different connotation. Although you can use TOO MANY to describe more than one countable noun, using this shows a negative meaning. This means you don’t like the noun or that something. For example:

There are TOO many birds in the house.

There are TOO many chili peppers in the pizza.

There are TOO many boxes in the garage.

So remember that many, several, and a lot are used to express something positive.

RULE 4:

Use S for singular verbs.

English grammar rule says that a singular verb always has an S.

Example:

She EATS bananas.

He RUNS very fast.

The old man DRINKS two cups of tea every morning.

Now, there is one group of pronouns which can be confusing to use:

no one

nobody

everyone

everybody

anyone

anybody

someone

somebody

They all mean exactly the same: ONE person that has no specific name. Since each of these is singular pronoun, then your verb must have an S.

So for the pronouns listed above, they always go with singular verbs. For instance you can say,

Nobody likes a dirty bed.

No one likes the smell of durian.

Everyone in the house loves chocolates!

Everybody in class enjoys dancing.

Notice that likes, loves, and enjoys are all singular forms of verb, so there’s an S at the end.  Here is where the grammar rule for subject verb agreement comes in:

When it’s a singular noun/pronoun, use singular verbs. Singular verbs ALWAYS have an S.

As a side note, another thing to remember: always use the singular helping verb HAS when using these pronouns.  For example:

no one has…

nobody has…

everyone has…

everybody has…

anyone has…

anybody has…

someone has…

somebody has…

HAVE is reserved for plural usages. So just a quick review, helping verbs include:

Singular Plural

am are

is are

was were

has have

had had

This is for an entirely different grammar topic.  But for now, just remember that we always use HAS for singular pronouns. So example, you can say:

No one has seen the bear hiding in the bushes.

Someone has arrived at the door late at night.

Everybody has an ID.

What are HELPING VERBS?

Helping verbs help a MAIN verb express an action. Most of the time, verbs can stand on their own, but sometimes they need help to express an action or a state.

Example:

The park has opened.

     opened = main verb

      has       =  helps “opened” to express the state

A helping verb is always JUST BEFORE the main verb. Other examples are:

They are laughing. (are = helping Verb, laughing = main Verb)

The seagull is flying. (is = helping V, flying = main V)

Dean is driving. (is = helping V, driving = main V)

Someone is laughing. (is = helping V, laughing = main V)

Somebody is driving the blue car. (is =helping V, driving = main V)

Helping verb is easy to spot! We use them all the time!

So, remember to use your S when it should be there, and don’t add it when it shouldn’t be there. This way, you’ll avoid errors in your sentences.


Author
I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.