Singular and Plural Tips in OET

In English, to change a singular into a plural is not a difficult thing. But, in medical English, you need to know some basic rules.

Generally, in English, a plural is formed by adding “S” to the ending of the word.

For example:

  • Nurse - Nurses
  • Doctor - Doctors
  • Patient - Patients
  • Drug - Drugs
  • Medicine - Medicines

However, there are some exceptions to this common rule.

Medical words (Greek and Latin Origin)

Words that end in -ch, -sm -sh, -o (some nouns) are made plural by adding -es.  

Remember, medical terms are derived from either Latin or Greek. These words or terms do not follow the same rules (as we have to covert a singular into a plural).  

Consider a few examples

These are the words that end on “a” and they can be converted into a plural by adding “e.”

  • Scapula - Scapulae
  • Vertebra - Vertebrae
  • Petechia - Petechiae    
  • Conjunctiva - Conjunctivae
  • Pleura - Pleurae
  • Axilla - Axillae

If the word ends in “ax” then the plural can be formed by adding “ces”. And you will have to eliminate “x” as well.

For example:

  • Pneumothorax - Pneumothoraces
  • Thorax - Thoraces  


Words that end in “us” can be converted into their plural forms by adding “i” at the end. And remember, you will have to drop “us”

Example:

  • Alveolus - Alveoli
  • Bronchus - Bronchi
  • Calculus - Calculi
  • Thrombus - Thrombi
  • Embolus - Emboli
  • Bacillus - Bacilli  


Words that end “ix” can be converted into plurals by adding “ces.” But, you will have to remove “x”

  • Appendix - Appendices
  • Cervix - Cervices  

Words that end in “ma” should be changed into a plural by adding “ta”. But, remember, you do not have to remove “ma”

Check out these examples

  • Fibroma - Fibromata
  • Sarcoma - Sarcomata

Words that end in “on” will take “a” at the end. And you will have to drop “on.”  

For example:

  • Spermatozoon - Spermatozoa
  • Ganglion - Ganglia

But the words that end in “ex” can be converted into plurals by removing the “ex” and adding “ices” at the end.  

Example

  • Apex - Apices
  • Cortex - Cortices
  • Vortex - Vortices   

Words that end on “is” can be converted into a plural by dropping “is” and adding “es.” such as
 

  • Anastomosis - Anastomoses
  • Diagnosis - Diagnoses
  • Metastasis - Metastases   
  • Prosthesis - Prostheses

Words that end in “um” will take “a” at the end. You will have to drop “um”

  • Atrium - Atria
  • Diverticulum - Diverticula
  • Bacterium - Bacteria   
  • Ovum - Ova

Words that end in “y” can be changed into plural form by adding “ies” at the end. You will have to drop the “y.”

  • Biopsy - Biopsies
  • Therapy - Therapies

Words that end with “x” will take “ges” at the end. You will have to drop “x”
 

  • Meninx - Meninges
  • Larynx - Larynges

Remember, you will have to make use of the correct plural forms when you are taking your OET writing sub-test. Of course, in your OET listening sub-test, an error in writing a plural or a singular form may not create a problem for you. Your answer will be marked right even if the answer is spelled wrongly. But, in writing sub-test, spelling errors will bring a trouble for you. Your score will get affected.

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