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In dealing with our English language, we learn that making “more” can be confusing.

We may have heard that “More is better.” In dealing with our English language, however, we learn that making “more” can be confusing. There seems to be little consistency when forming plurals. (Yes, there are “rules,” but the exceptions can be daunting.)

Do not go by sound or similarity of spelling. Booth will be booths, but tooth becomes teeth. More than one boot? Boots. More than one foot? Feet! (Beet would not work for boot because we have already granted a red vegetable with that name.)

One mouse is unnerving; several mice mean an infestation as well as confusion. This also works for louse and lice. However, you can see one moose or many moose — no change. (Mice won’t work here as a plural since we have given the rodents that form.) One roof, many roofs; one hoof, however, leads to many hooves.

Some of our words change form altogether. One child, many children; one person, many people. If you are trying to work with a word that has come to us from Latin, you will end up with one cactus, many cacti. One fungus can lead to many fungi. Just so, one hippopotamus leads us to several hippopotami. (See the picture of the rhinoceri?) Is it any wonder that we are now most accepting of cactuses, hippopotamuses and funguses?

Some of our words that seem plural in spelling but represent a single item are still treated as if plural (still with me?) Therefore, we treat glasses (item used for seeing better), pants and scissors as plural words and give them plural verbs when used in sentences. (One other warning about scissors: Do not run with them!)

You can refer to an index but be wary of many indices (in-de-cees). Ready for more confusion? One basis may lead to many bases (base-ees), which when looking at the word makes one think of places on a baseball diamond. The pronunciation differs though. (See why reading aloud can be problematic?)

Just remember that if “one is good” may not be better if you have to struggle to find the right word. Just get used to saying “a lot” of them.

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