11 Fun Irregular Plurals Activities

By Alex Case
Stimulating presentation and practice activities for irregular plurals from “women” to “bacteria”, including irregular plurals communicative activities

Irregular plurals can be a problem from Elementary students learning “children” to Advanced students learning “crises” or that “data” is plural already. Luckily, there are also stimulating irregular plurals practice activities for every level to use at the presentation and practice stages, including many great communicative activities. There are more competitive irregular plurals games and controlled drilling activities here.

Irregular plurals presentation activities

All of the activities in this article can be used at the presentation stage by giving students the irregular plurals form to use in communication, then testing them on their memories of the forms they just used by giving just the singular forms, giving a list with some wrong plurals, etc. The ideas near the top below are particularly useful for the presentation stage.

They can also all be used at the production stage by giving just the list of singular nouns or just setting up the situation and letting them come up with their own ideas.

Irregular plurals general knowledge quizzes

Students try to choose the right answer to some trivia questions with “How many” and irregular plurals like “How many moose are in the biggest herds?”, try to remember the irregular forms that they answered questions about, then make similar questions to test other groups with.

Irregular plural quotes and media

Find at least ten famous things with irregular plurals or their singular forms like the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” that at least some students will already be familiar with. These can be movies, song titles, song lyrics, famous quotes, etc. Ways to use these for presentation include:

  • students match them to descriptions of where they come from, then try to identify which have irregular plurals in and match them to the singular forms
  • students correct mistakes with the use of singular and plural which you have added

Irregular plurals poems

If you can find or write a poem with lines ending with irregular plurals and words which rhyme with them, activities include:

  • matching up pairs of lines
  • adding suitable words to the ends of lines
  • swapping lines or final words which are in the wrong places
  • changing the singular forms to plurals (to make it make sense and make it rhyme)

Irregular plurals communication activities

Irregular plurals personal guessing

Give students a list of irregular plurals and their singular forms, making sure that at least half could be used to talk about their own lives such as “loaves (of bread)”. Students take turns trying to make true sentences about the other person, choosing the singular or plural depending on how many they think is true about each thing, e.g. “One person lives in the flat next to you” and “Some people live in the flat next to you”.

Irregular plurals questions activities

Plurals are common in typical questions like “Do you like…?”, “Are there any…?” and “Do you have any…?”, something that can easily be exploited for irregular plurals practice.

Irregular plurals make me say

This is the questions version of Irregular Plurals Personal Guessing above. Students get one point each time their partner says “Yes” to questions with irregular plurals or their singular forms like “Do you brush your teeth twice a day?” and “Is there an annoying person at work?”, with no points if the reality is a different number from what they asked about.

Good and bad small talk with irregular plurals

Make some examples of possible small talk questions that have irregular plurals in like “Do you stay in touch with any fellow alumni?” mixed in with some which are weird in normal conversation like “What size are your feet?” Students should only ask the good questions, feeling free to reject any which they feel are too personal. They can then try to make similar good questions out of a list of suitable and unsuitable words, perhaps given in the singular form if you want to test them on their memory of the plurals.

Irregular plurals discussion questions

Students ask and answer some issue-based questions with irregular plurals or their singular forms like “What do you think about countries which try to limit the number of children that people have?” and “Is it okay to catch and kill mice?”  They can then make up similar questions from a list of suitable nouns.

Irregular plurals coin speaking

Students flip a coin to see if they should use the singular (heads) or plural (tails). This can be used to decide which form they use in a statement about their partner, which form they use in a question, or which form they use in a statement about themselves (using their imagination if they can’t think of anything true, in a kind of bluff).

Irregular plurals storytelling

Storytelling is great for this topic, as many irregular plurals do not often come up in normal daily chitchat.

Make a list of plurals that could be in an interesting story like “thieves” and “wolves”, maybe on cards. Students try to make an interesting story out of as many of them as they can, changing them to singular if that matches their story better. Perhaps after telling their story to another group and/ or comparing how many words they could use, they can be tested on how many of those plurals they can remember.

Irregular plurals survival activities

Give students a list of irregular plurals (or just their singular forms) and ask them to choose 20 to take to a desert island. There probably aren’t actually 20 irregular plural things that would be useful, so the amusement and challenge come from them deciding to take 12 tuna to make up numbers or a moose for some imaginative purpose that they have thought up. To encourage creativity, you could give points for things that no other group thought of taking but can be justified. With very imaginative classes, you could have them pick the things at random and try to think of ways in which “bacteria” or “thieves” would be useful.

Written by Alex Case for Teflnet September 2023
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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