'Busses' or 'Buses': What is the Plural of 'Bus'?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 31, 2022

The plural of ‘bus’ often confuses people. They wonder whether the correct form is ‘busses’ or ‘buses.’ So, if this confusing word is stumping you, you are not alone.

The correct plural form of ‘bus’ is ‘buses.’ However, that was not always the case, and until 1961, the preferred plural form of ‘bus’ was ‘busses’ in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

Find out more in this guide. It includes definitions, uses, examples, and tips for remembering the correct plural form of other confusing words. 

What is the Correct Plural Form of ‘Bus?’

The plural form of ‘bus’ is ‘buses.’ However, at one time, ‘busses’ was the preferred plural form of ‘bus.’ 

Until 1961, the Merriam-Webster dictionary listed ‘busses’ as the main plural form of ‘bus’ with ‘buses’ as an alternative spelling. 

Even today, you may find ‘busses’ listed as a plural form of ‘bus.’ However, ‘busses’ can refer to multiple public transit vehicles or a bunch of kisses. 

Why is the Plural Form of ‘Bus’ ‘Buses?’

‘Bus’ is a word that does not follow a specific pluralization rule. Partially due to the unique spelling of the word. 

Therefore, either ‘busses’ or ‘buses’ was an acceptable form of the noun  ‘bus,’ and it still is today. However, most people use ‘buses’ when referencing more than one ‘bus.’

What is the Definition of a ‘Bus?’

‘Bus’ can be a noun or a verb. The exact meaning differs depending on the usage. However, both reference transporting people or goods. 

‘Bus’ as a Noun

As a noun, ‘bus’ means a large vehicle used to transport passengers by road. Examples of ‘bus’ used in a sentence as a noun include: 

  • The students ride to school each morning on the ‘bus.’ 
  • The ‘bus’ carries the team to tournaments all over the country. 
  • If you want to get downtown, ride the number 81 ‘bus.’

‘Bus’ as a Verb

You can also use bus as a verb which means to transport something. For example: 

  • Will you ‘bus’ the students across town?
  • Who will pay the cost to ‘bus’ all those people to the location?
  • We can ‘bus’ the flowers in from a local farm. 
  • We ‘bus’ all of our produce in from local artisan farmers. So, everything is fresh, farm-to-table.  

As a verb, ‘bus’ can also mean removing food or plates from a table. As in: 

  • Will you have Peter ‘bus’ that table? 
  • ‘Bus’ that table as soon as you get a chance.
  • If guests are talking after dinner, you should ‘bus’ the table. Then, ask if they would like coffee or dessert. 

What are ‘Busses?’

‘Busses’ is one of the more confusing words in the English language. It does not follow a standard pluralization rule. So, even if you are grammatically proficient, you may be unsure. 

To add to the confusion, ‘busses’ could mean more than one ‘bus’ or more than one ‘buss.’ A ‘buss’ is an old-fashioned synonym for ‘kiss.’ The plural form of the noun ‘buss’ is also ‘busses,’ which may be why the official plural form of ‘bus’ was updated to ‘buses’ in 1961. 

Some examples of ‘busses’ in a sentence: 

  • The girls at the kissing both give ‘busses’ all day. 
  • I love it when you blow ‘busses’ at me. 
  • Don’t let the teacher catch you giving boys ‘busses’ at recess. 

Other Confusing Forms of 'Bus'

The similar spelling of 'bus and 'buss' can make using different forms of the word complicated. For example, the past tense verb form of 'bus' is 'bused,' as in:

  • The children were 'bused' to the new school.

'Bussed,' on the other hand, means 'kissed.' For example:

  • The boy 'bussed' at the girls outside the store.
  • We know she 'bussed' John at the dance.

Sample Sentences Using ‘Buses’ 

‘Buses’ is the plural noun form of ‘bus.’ Here are some examples in sentences: 

  • Janice takes three ‘buses’ to get downtown to her school. 
  • ‘Buses’ run every 15 minutes. 
  • The ‘buses’ take the students to school each morning. 
  • ‘Buses’ were lined up along the street. 
  • The ‘buses’ will be waiting when you exit the event. 

Final Advice on Using ‘Busses’ or ‘Buses’ 

You can technically use ‘busses’ or ‘buses’ as the plural form of ‘bus.’ However, the popularly used form is ‘buses,’ and it may look like a spelling error to some people. 

People rarely use the word ‘busses’ as a synonym for ‘kiss,’ and with a meaning so vastly different from ‘bus’ if you were to use ‘busses’ instead of ‘kisses’ while trying to write like Earnest Hemingway, it shouldn’t cause any confusion. 

 Properly using words and phrases makes you appear more detailed and knowledgeable, even if the phrase does not directly speak to the subject matter. Bookmark witingtips.org in case you need help with the plural form of other confusing words like ‘cacti,’ ‘nowhere,’ and ‘however.' 


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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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