So bilden Sie den Plural von „Compound Nouns“

In der August-Ausgabe Ihrer English@work haben Sie gelesen, welche Arten von Zusammensetzungen es gibt und welche Regeln bzw. Empfehlungen für die Schreibweise: zusammen, getrennt oder mit Bindestrich. Hier geht es nun um die Bildung des Plurals.

Das kann so schwer nicht sein, meinen Sie? Sind Sie sich denn in allen Fällen ganz sicher, wie Sie die Mehrzahl bilden sollen?

Let’s put you to the test!

Exercise: Bilden Sie den Plural der folgenden Wörter

  1. handout ::::__
  2. housewife ::::
  3. passer-by ::::
  4. bypass ::::__
  5. sister-in-law :::___
  6. motorway ::::
  7. lieutenant general ::___
  8. forget-me-not :::__
  9. washing-up-liquid ::___
  10. water bottle :::___

Answer key

So did you find this little exercise easy?


“My other brother-in-law died. He was a karate expert, then joined the army. The first time he saluted, he killed himself.”

Henny Youngman

Regeln zur Pluralbildung

It would have been the mixture of different compound nouns which caused you any problems if you found the exercise difficult at all. Because the rules are quite simple.

  1. Most compounds nouns, whether written in one word, hyphenated or even as two words, are pluralised (BE)/pluralized (AE) as all other nouns by adding an “s” at the end: suitcases, bluebirds, waterfalls, coworkers, showrooms, grown-ups
  2. Compound nouns hypenated with an additional “by” or “on” are pluralised with an “s” added to the first word: passers-by, hangers-on
  3. It gets a bit tricky when we come to three-part compound nouns. The defining word is pluralised: fathers-inlaw, washing-up-liquids, good-fornothings.

Insider tip from your British editor Maureen Brown

Measurement units have undergone a change in pluralisation over the years. While old style plural of words with “ful” used to pluralise the first part as in teaspoonsful and bucketsful, today many of them are pluralised on the second part: teaspoonfuls, bucketfuls.

Humoristische Grammatikregeln

To cheer you up after these rules we have put together some really funny ones. Don’t take them too seriously, but take your time to think about them.

  1. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. See the Winston Churchill quote in the next article for an example.
  2. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  3. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  4. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  5. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  6. Be more or less specific.
  7. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  8. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies endlessly over and over again.
  9. No sentence fragments.
  10. Contractions aren’t always necessary and shouldn’t be used to excess so don’t.
  11. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
  12. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous and can be excessive.
  13. All generalizations are bad.
  14. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  15. Don’t use no double negatives.
  16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake (unless they are as good as gold).
  18. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  19. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words, however, should be enclosed in commas.
  20. Don’t overuse exclamation points!!!
  21. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
  22. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed. Use it correctly with words’ that show possession.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions? However, what if there were no rhetorical questions?
  24. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.
  25. Proofread your texts to see if you any words out.
  26. The dash – a sometimes useful punctuation mark – can often be overused – even though it’s a helpful tool sometimes.

More such funny rules on, where the above cited are from.

Vocabulary Box

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