Learn English – Are there any words in English that have a plural with a separate derivation


There are some irregular plurals in English (child/children, goose/geese), but all of the ones I know of share the same root word.

In some languages, there are some irregular pairs where the singular form does not have the same root as the plural form, such as in Russian (год/лет, человек/люди).

Are there any such irregular plurals in English?

Best Answer

Notwithstanding that I voted to close, I'm going to stick my neck out and say there are no "English nouns with suppletive plurals". With the possible exception of person/people per Wiktionary link.

But I would point out that both those are singular words in their own right, with regular plurals (persons/peoples). It just so happens that people is often used as a plural anyway (similar to one fish, two fish).

It's also worth noting that person can be used in contexts where people can't - for example, "He carries a pistol on his person", but not *"They carry pistols on their people". Correspondingly, "The good people of London welcome all to the Olympics", but not *"The good persons of London..."

Valid examples of suppletion in English consist of a few common verbs (to be - am, is, were, are) and adjectives (good - better, best). The phenomenon can only occur with common words, because with uncommon words the natural tendency of speakers to "regularise" inflections will triumph.