'Calfs' or 'Calves': What is the Plural of 'Calf'?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on October 21, 2022

Have you been struggling with how to make the plural form of the word ‘calf’? This article will tackle that, as well as teach you how to use the singular and plural forms of the word in a sentence.

The plural form of ‘calf’ is ‘calves.’ ‘Calfs’ is incorrect. 

Defining the Word ‘Calf’

Merriam Webster’s first definition of ‘calf’ is: “the young of the domestic cow” or “the young of various large animals (such as the elephant or whale).”

Another definition is: “the fleshy back part of the leg below the knee.”

What is the Plural Form of ‘Calf’ 

As mentioned above, the plural form of the word ‘calf’ is ‘calves.’ It is never correct to use the word ‘calfs.’ It’s not a recognized word in the American English language.

Why Pluralizing ‘Calf’ Can Be Tricky

Pluralizing most nouns in the English language is pretty easy. The standard rule is that to make a word plural, you add ‘s’ or ‘es’ in some cases.

For example:

  • Truck > Trucks
  • Shoe > Shoes
  • Ex > Exes
  • Tux > Tuxes

But words that end in ‘y’ have different rules. You drop th ‘y’ and add ‘ies.’ For example:

  • Sky > Skies
  • Fly > Flies
  • Try > Tries
  • Fry > Fries

However, in some cases, you’d simply add an ‘s’ to words that end in ‘y.’ For example:

  • Boy > Boys
  • Toy > Toys
  • Day > Days
  • Say > Says
  • Buy > Buys

But words like ‘calf’ have a whole other set of rules to follow. The ending changes in a non-traditional way, like the following words:

  • Life > Lives
  • Knife > Knives
  • Wife > Wives
  • Goose > Geese
  • Foot > Feet

Since the English language is made up of so many different languages, the rules are different for certain words.

Using the Singular and Plural Forms in a Sentence

Now that we’ve learned what the word ‘calf’ means and how to pluralize it, we can talk about how to use it appropriately in a sentence.

Here’s an example of how to use ‘calf’ in a sentence.

  • After playing basketball yesterday, my right calf is aching.
  • Look at that adorable calf grazing next to his mother.
  • The first calf was born at 8:45 this morning; the second at 9:00.

Here’s an example of how to use ‘calves’ in a sentence.

  • The calves were running around the big stretch of grass.
  • Both of my calves are tender for some reason.
  • I like watching all the adorable calves at feeding time.

Using the Possessive Forms of the Word ‘Calf’

You know that the plural form of ‘calf’ is ‘calves.’ But let’s go over the singular and plural possessive forms of the word in case you come across that.

Here are examples of how to use the singular possessive form of the word:

  • That calf’s mother is in distress; someone help her.
  • That calf’s siblings are faster than him.

Here are examples of how to use the plural possessive form of the word:

  • The calves’ pen is a bit dirty; it needs a good cleaning.
  • His calves’ definition is unmatched by any other weight lifters in the competition.

Final Thoughts on Using ‘Calf’ and ‘Calves’

To recap, the plural form of the word ‘calf’ is ‘calves,’ not ‘calfs.’ It’s never acceptable to use ‘calfs.’

To help you remember how to pluralize the word, remember that it’s one of those words with special pluralization rules, like mouse and leaf.

Find yourself getting stumped on confusing words often? Browse our library of confusing English words and commonly misspelled words.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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