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Spelling rules: adding 'es'

Remember this English spelling rule when you are making words plural

Spelling rules: Adding 'es'

There are so many spelling rules and it can be difficult to learn and remember them all when you are learning English. Usually when you are talking about more than one item or thing, you add the letter ‘s’ on the end, which makes it plural. However this isn’t always the case; if the word ends in the letter ‘s’, ‘ss’, ‘z’, ‘ch’, ‘sh’, or ‘x’ you add ‘es’.

When do you add ‘es’?

If you are writing an assignment about what you like to do, you could write ‘I like going to church’, if you enjoy going to more than one church, you could write ‘I like going to churches.’

Or maybe you enjoy walking, so you could write ‘I like walking down the River Thames path’ or if you enjoy walking far, you could write ‘I like walking down the River Thames paths’. 

Both words (church and path) end in the letter ‘h’, so how come the first example adds the letters ‘es’ to make it plural, whilst the second example only adds the letter ‘s’ to make it plural?

The spelling rule

The spelling rule is: when the word ends ins’, ‘ss’, ‘z’, ‘ch’, ‘sh’, or ‘x’ you add ‘es’. This rule was created centuries ago, as a means of stopping the plural ‘s’ clashing with these letters.

So, when the word has s, ss, z, ch, sh, or x at the end of a word, you add ‘es’:


  • Bus = Buses
  • Miss = Misses
  • Quiz = Quizzes
  • Church = Churches
  • Crash = Crashes
  • Box = Boxes

Why not practice this for yourself or test your friends and family? Below are a list of 15 words that you need to decide whether they need ‘s’ or ‘es’ adding on the end to make them plural.

  1. Allow
  2. Clock
  3. Cross
  4. Discuss
  5. Finish
  6. Jazz
  7. Kiss
  8. Match
  9. Minus
  10. Push
  11. Relax
  12. Tax
  13. Teach
  14. Time 
  15. Toothbrush