Browse Definitions :

Calfs vs. calves; wifes vs. wives; roofs vs. rooves

Writing for Business

Which is correct?
Because black absorbs light (which equates to heat) and white reflects it, white is a better option for data center _____.
a. roofs
b. rooves

Answer: Either, depending on where you are.

Explanation:

In the U.S., roofs is the standard plural of roof; elsewhere rooves is fairly common but becoming less so. The same holds true for an increasing number of words ending in “f.”

The standard/traditional rule for words ending in “f”  — the one I grew up with, of course — is that we substitute a “v” for the “f” and add “es” to form the plural:

 Singular  Plural  
calf calves
elf elves
half halves
hoof hooves
knife knives
leaf leaves
life lives
loaf loaves
shelf shelves
thief thieves
wife wives
wolf wolves

The rule on “roofs” has changed so completely in the U.S. that Merriam-Webster no longer even has an entry for “rooves.” Although the standard rule for most words ending in “f” still holds,  in casual speech and writing words like “calfs,” “elfs” and “loafs” are appearing more and more. What that means, in all likelihood, is that more will follow and the old rule will change, so that words ending in “f” just take an “s” for pluralization, like most words ending in a consonant.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, other than that in the transitional period, people who say “calfs,” “elfs” and “loafs” may be ridiculed by those of us clinging to the old rule. That being the case, stick to the standard for formal writing.

Writers on the Net provides resources on irregular plurals.

A tip of the editor’s visor to @Guy_in_PEI for the inspiration for this post. (What, no one’s wearing those green eyeshades any more? Oh, I AM behind the times.)

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • cyber attack

    A cyber attack is any attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer, computing system or computer network with the intent to ...

  • backdoor (computing)

    A backdoor is a means to access a computer system or encrypted data that bypasses the system's customary security mechanisms.

  • post-quantum cryptography

    Post-quantum cryptography, also called quantum encryption, is the development of cryptographic systems for classical computers ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement)

    A cloud SLA (cloud service-level agreement) is an agreement between a cloud service provider and a customer that ensures a ...

  • NOR flash memory

    NOR flash memory is one of two types of non-volatile storage technologies.

  • RAM (Random Access Memory)

    RAM (Random Access Memory) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

Close