Supplies, babies and puppies

No, that’s not the contents of a weird shopping list, it’s one of those lovely often confusing things about English, how do we indicate plurals of words ending in -y and what rules apply to that.

There are actually just a few easy to remember rules;

For words ending in -y preceded by a consonant (all other letters that are not vowels) before the final -y, the plural is made using -ies and in some cases –ied, to indicate the past tense of the word.

puppy – puppies
army – armies
supply – supplies – supplied
sky – skies
party – parties
library – libraries
rely – relies – relied
marry – marries
theory – theories
study – studies – studied
apply – applies – applied
bully – bullies – bullied

If the word has a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) before the final -y then you just add an –s or -ed to indicate past tense.

boy – boys
toy – toys – toyed
employ – employs – employed
valley – valleys
delay – delays – delayed
convey – conveys – conveyed
pray – prays – prayed
stay – stays – stayed

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, this is English after all.

say – said
pay – paid
lay – laid

And for words that end in -ie we change it to -y before –ing it

die – dying
lie – lying

For words ending in -y that are verbs (doing words) we do not drop the -y before the ing

study – studying
hurry – hurrying
relay – relaying
pray – praying
portray – portraying
apply – applying

And the reason for this post, trying to explain to someone the difference between and WHY it was harry, harried, harrying and harriers.

The dogs will harry the rabbits

The dogs harried the rabbits

The dogs were harrying the rabbits.

This makes the dogs harriers

I’m not sure if I managed it without making their head explode, but it did lead me to do some research and clear a few things up in my own mind.

And a day in which you learn something new or reinforce something only previously half known is a good thing.

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