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BLU3 M0UNTA1N5
Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2021 6:45:15 PM

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What is the plural of dear dwarf and soonful?
tautophile
Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2021 8:33:27 PM
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The plural of "dwarf" is usually "dwarfs", but JRR Tolkien preferred "dwarves" for his Middle-Earth epics.

The plural of "s[u]p[/]oonful" is usually "spoonfuls", but I have seen it as "spoonsful", just as I've seen "cupsful" alongside the more common "cupfuls"
BLU3 M0UNTA1N5
Posted: Sunday, January 31, 2021 12:57:58 AM

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Thanks
tautophile
Posted: Monday, February 1, 2021 12:10:21 PM
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The plural of "dear" is "dears". The plural of "deer", the animal, is usually "deer--"We saw a dozen deer by the roadside near the lake today"--but sometimes you see the plural as "deers".
Write Edge
Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 2:24:14 AM

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The plurals of dwarf, dear, Spoonful are dwarfs, dear, Spoonfuls.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 5:11:34 AM

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It is not quite that simple.

dwarf can have either plural.

One pattern is that nouns ending in -f take the plural '-ves'
knives, lives, halves, thieves, leaves, loaves, wharves, shelves, wolves, elves. Hooves, rooves, dwarves - it is a very strong pattern.
For most it is the only option - eg 'lifes' and 'knifes' are definitely wrong.

Also it makes the distinction between the noun - they used knives - and the verb - he always knifes someone.

But for some, the -s ending is used as well or instead
hoofs, roofs, dwarfs.
That is the traditional plural.

and for some -s is the only options
reefs, chiefs, white dwarfs
although chief is always chiefs, but kerchief/handkerchief can be handkerchieves.
Quote:
handkerchief
noun [ C ]
plural handkerchiefs or UK also handkerchieves (informal hanky)


Before Tolkien dwarfs was the norm, but he used dwarves, so that stuck.

THere are some oddities.
Beef is the uncountable name for the meat of a cow. From Norman beof, modern French bœuf. English cooks in French but farms in Old English. But the animals are called beeves in certain circumstances.

So there is justification for both dwarfs and dwarves, and both are used.

Spoonfuls is interesting because it depends on how much that has become a complete word, not a combination.
When you have a noun in a compound noun, it is that noun that becomes plural
sister, sisters. Sister-in-law, sisters-in-law.

Attorney, attorneys. Attorney General. Attorneys General. Because 'general' means overall, it is not a rank in the army. But some people put the -s after general. Like brigadier generals.
Court martial. Courts martial. But it becomes such a fixed phrase together that people commonly use the plural court martials.

The plural of a spoon full of sugar is clearly spoons full of sugar. But 'a spoonful' has become a word by itself, and is not divided any more - it becomes its own noun. Plural spoonfuls. But that does not make 'spoonsful' wrong. It is just going back to the way that word is constructed.
There is no governing body for English, telling people how to write it. There are dictionaries which describe how people write things. And as a learner the way to get it right is to follow what the dictionary says, because that is how other people write it, so it won't look 'wrong' to other people if you write it that way.

But that is also why dictionaries give alternative versions - because a significant number of people follow one pattern, and a significant number follow another pattern.


Quote:
dwarf
noun [ C ]
UK /dwɔːf/ US /dwɔːrf/
plural dwarfs or dwarves

in stories for children, a creature like a little man with magical powers:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/dwarf

Quote:
spoonful
noun [ C ]
UK /ˈspuːn.fʊl/ US /ˈspuːn.fʊl/
plural spoonfuls or spoonsful

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/spoonful

I was thinking that spoonsful must be pretty rare. I would say spoonfuls.
But having thought about it - two teaspoonsful, two teaspoonfuls? - I think I would say teaspoonsful.

Maybe that hasn't quite passed that boundary of leaving the old words behind and becoming a new complete word. A spoonful is an idea, the way to express 'a small amount'. But a teaspoonful is still the amount of something you put in your cooking by using a teaspoon.
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