By Shanea Patterson, updated on October 31, 2022

When thinking about how to make the plural form of ‘pay,’ you might be confused as to pluralize it, seeing as it doesn’t follow the traditional rules for pluralizing English words. This article will cover how to pluralize the word, as well as how to use it in both forms in a sentence.

It will also discuss the correct way to use the word ‘payed,’ and when it’s appropriate.

In short, the plural of ‘pay’ is ‘paid.’ It’s never okay to say ‘payed.’

‘Payed’ or ‘Paid’ – What’s the Correct Spelling

If you’re trying to make the word ‘pay’ plural, you’d say ‘paid’, not ‘payed.’ That’s because ‘payed’ is not the correct past tense form of the word.

Standard Pluralization Rules

You know that to pluralize ‘pay,’ you’d say ‘paid.’ But you might be wondering why because it doesn’t follow the same rules that most English nouns follow.

The standard rule for pluralizing English nouns is to add an ‘s’ or ‘es,’ but the rules get a little tricky when it comes to verbs.

For example, the subject-verb agreement rule means the verb in a sentence has to match the subject. So, if one person is performing an action, the verb is singular. If more than one person is performing the action, the verb is plural.

With singular verbs, you’d add an ‘s’ or ‘es.’ For example:

  • Bake > Bakes
  • Walk > Walks
  • Wash > Washes
  • Catch > Catches

With plural verbs, you wouldn’t add an ‘s’ or ‘es.’

For example:

  • She bakes > We bake
  • She walks > They walk
  • She washes > They wash
  • She catches > We catch

But the word ‘pay’ is slightly different, in that it changes in its plural form.

  • She pays > We pay

In past tense, it would be:

  • She paid > We paid

As you can see, it wouldn’t change at all.

‘Payed’ or ‘Paid’ – What’s the Difference

You might be wondering, what’s the difference between ‘payed’ and ‘paid.’ Well, the simple answer is that the word ‘paid’ is the past tense of the word ‘pay.’ However, the word ‘payed’ is not the correct past tense of ‘pay.’

There are cases in which the word ‘payed’ can be used appropriately (as long as it’s not used in a financial or transactional way).

For instance, if used in a nautical sense, the correct form of the word would be ‘payed.’

Since both forms are correct in some sense, it helps to know the difference between them, as well as how to use each one correctly.

Here’s how to use both forms in a sentence:

  • She paid me for babysitting her kids.
  • The captain payed out the rope so everyone could climb up it and into the boat.

Definition and Meaning

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word is: “to make due return to for services rendered or property delivered,” “to engage for money: hire,” to give in return for goods or services,” and “to discharge indebtedness for: settle.”

It’s also got the following definitions: “to make a disposal or transfer of (money),” “to give or forfeit in expiation or retribution,” “to make compensation for,” to require according to what is deserved,” “to give, offer, or make freely or as fitting (pay attention),” to return value or profit to,” and “to bring in as a return,” among others.

The word could also mean: “To suffer the consequences of an act,” to be worth the expense or effort.”

The word “payed” is defined as: “let out a rope by slacking.” But it can also refer to sealing a deck or hull of a wooden ship with pitch or tar in order to prevent leakage.

Using ‘Paid’ in a Sentence Correctly

Now that you know how to use both ‘paid’ and ‘payed’ correctly, let’s focus on using ‘paid,’ the past tense of ‘pay’ in a sentence in both singular and plural forms since it’s the more common word.

Here’s how to use it in the singular form again:

  • Crime doesn’t pay; I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.
  • Pay attention to the teacher when she’s speaking.
  • You can’t pay me enough to break the law.

Here’s how to use it in plural form:

  • He paid his rent on time every month for ten years.
  • She paid her traffic ticket at the courthouse.
  • Don’t forget that the car insurance has to be paid before next week.

Since the word ‘pay’ is a verb, there are no singular possessive or plural possessive forms of the word because only nouns can have possessions.

Final Thoughts on ‘Paid’ and ‘Payed’

As you learned above, although both words are acceptable to use, only one version is the correct past tense form of ‘pay,’ which is ‘paid.’

‘Payed’ is only acceptable to use in a nautical sense. To help you remember the difference between the two, think about how both ‘paid’ has an ‘I’ in it, just like ‘finance.’ Words like ‘ox’ and ‘woman’ also have strange pluralization forms.

If you find yourself getting stuck on plurals or other confusing words, check out our library of articles on confusing 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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