'Knifes' or 'Knives': What is the Plural of 'Knife'?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 25, 2022

Many people wonder if 'knifes' or 'knives' is correct. The plural form of ‘knife’ is ‘knives.’ Remembering the correct plural form of ‘knife’ is not as challenging as some complex plural word forms because it follows the rule that applies to most words ending in ‘f’ or ‘fe.’ When creating the plural form of these words, you replace the ‘f’ or ‘fe’ with ‘ves.’

However, you can use ‘knife’ as a verb, and ‘knifes’ is a proper verb form of the word. There are also other past and present verb forms of ‘knife.’ All of the different ways of using ‘knife’ can make knowing the correct usage complicated. 

So, while there is only one singular and one plural form, there are many different ways to use ‘knife.’ To learn more, keep reading. 

What is the Plural of 'Knife'?

'Knives' is the plural form of 'knife.'So, if  there is more than one 'knife,' you say 'knives.'

Definitions of ‘Knife’

Nearly everyone knows what a ‘knife’ is, but there are a few uncommon definitions that may not be familiar to you. 

‘Knife’ (Noun) 

As a noun, ‘knife’ means a tool, weapon, or instrument for cutting. 

‘Knife’ (Transitive Verb) 

As a transitive verb, ‘knife’ means: 

  • To cut, stab, slash, mark, or spread with a ‘knife.’ 
  • To underhandedly defeat an opponent. 
  • To move with the same motion as a ‘knife.’ 

‘Knife’ (Intransitive Verb)

As an intransitive verb, ‘knife’ means to create a way through something, but not with a cutting instrument. When using the intransitive verb form of ‘knife,’ you describe an action that a person, place, or thing is doing. As in: 

  • Watch the yacht ‘knife’ through the water with ease.
  • The dolphins ‘knife’ through the waves made by the boats. 

When Do You Use: ‘Knife,’ ‘Knifes’ or ‘Knives’? 

You use knife as a singular noun or verb. 'Knives is always the plural noun form of 'knife,' and 'knifes' is always a third-person, present-tense verb. Knowing when to use ‘knife' properly, ‘knifes,’ and ‘knives’ can be confusing. It helps not to think about the verb form of the word when you are using the plural noun form

Remember that you follow the rule for creating the plural form of words that end in ‘f’ or ‘fe.’ You simply replace the ‘f’ or ‘fe’ ending with a ‘ves.’ For example: 

If you want to use 'knife' as an action word and describe someone else doing something in the present tense, you will use ‘knifes.’ For example:

  • The contestant 'knifes' the pumpkin with precision. 
  • She 'knifes' her way through the crowd to get to the front.
  • The sales rep 'knifes' anyone who gets in the way of his sales. 

‘Knives’ is the plural form of ‘knife.’ ‘Knives’ is always a plural noun. Some examples include:

  • She bought a new set of ‘knives’ for her friend. 
  • Be careful when you take the ‘knives’ out of the dishwasher. 
  • You can sharpen the ‘knives’ with the ‘knife’ sharpener. 

Other Forms of ‘Knife’ and Usage Examples

There are many different ways to use ‘knife.’ Read examples of the various forms below. 

‘Knife’ (1st, 2nd, or 3rd Person, Present-Tense Verb)

You can use ‘knife’ as a noun or a verb. Here are examples of ‘knife’ used as an action word:

  • To get to the front, you will have to ‘knife’ your way through. 
  • Don’t just ‘knife’ at the ice sculpture. 

‘Knifes’ (3rd person, Present-Tense Verb)

‘Knifes’ is always used in the third person, present tense. Examples include: 

  • The girl ‘knifes’ through the cardboard box to reveal the contents. 
  • An expert carver ‘knifes’ the wood with precision. 
  • She dangerously ‘knifes’ at the children. 

‘Knifed’ (1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Past-Tense Verb)

The past tense of the verb ‘knife’ is ‘knifed.’ These are a few samples of the ‘knifed’ in a sentence: 

  • I ‘knifed’ the frosting onto the cake. 
  • She ‘knifed’ the peanut butter onto the sandwich. 

‘Knifing’ (1st, 2nd, 3rd Person Present-Tense Verb)

‘Knifing’ is the present tense verb form of ‘knife.’ You use ‘knifing’ in a sentence like: 

  • ‘Knifing’ away at something can be very dangerous. 
  • She was ‘knifing’ the turkey in a peculiar way, but she didn’t do a bad job carving it. 

Final Thoughts on the Plural Form of ‘Knife’ 

The plural form of the noun ‘knife’ is ‘knives.’ You can use the word ‘knifes’ as a verb or action word. However, people commonly say ‘knife’ or ‘knives’ in the singular and plural noun forms. 

Although you can use ‘knife’ as a verb, it is uncommon and probably not the best choice for most formal communications. It can have a violent connotation that may come across incorrectly. 

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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