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Calfs vs. Calves

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Some English words form plurals easily. Words like rock, tree, and riverbed can be made plural by adding an –s to the end. These words are regular plurals. Other times, pluralization is more complicated. Words wolf, shelf, and calf follow different rules. These words are irregular plurals. But how do we form plurals for these words? In these instances, the plural is formed by substituting –ve ­for the ­f before adding –s. Since every rule has its exceptions, there are still words ending in –lf that form regular plurals. They are rare, but they exist.

Is calf one of these rare exceptions? Continue reading to find out.

Origin:

Calf originated from Old English cælf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kalf and German Kalb. Calf also originated from Middle English: from Old Norse kálfi, of unknown origin.

Calf as noun:

Calf is a noun which means a young bovine animal, especially a domestic cow or bull in its first year.

He hunted down the calf.

Calf is also used as a noun to describe the fleshy part at the back of a person's leg below the knee.

She toned her calf muscles.

Use of calves:

Calves is the plural form of the word calf, which is a noun that refers to the young of some mammals or a section of the lower leg.

Use of calfs:

Calfs is not the correct way to spell this plural word. It should be spelled calves instead. The same rule applies to similarly spelled words—half becomes halves, wolf becomes wolves, and shelf becomes shelves. There are exceptions to every rule. For example, golf is pluralized into golfs, rather than golves; gulf likewise becomes gulfs. That being said, calf is not one of these exceptions.

Examples:

He would help feed chickens — 135,000 of them — and tag calves on his father’s 250-acre farm. [New York Times]

But her toned calves could still be seen as she turned around in her black high heels by Gianvito Rossi. [Daily Mail]

There are no wild cattle remaining to give us an indication of the natural weaning age of calves. [Principles of Cattle Production, Clive J.C. Phillips]

Surgical techniques to enhance buttocks’ or calves’ volume consisted of placement of silicone implants below the gluteus maximus muscle in the buttocks or over the internal gemellus muscle in the calves. [Autologous Fat Transfer: Art, Science, and Clinical Practice, ed. Melvin Shiffman]

One farmer claims to have damaged his iPhone while calving, accidentally inserting it into the rear of a cow. [Telegraph]

Long calving intervals on Irish farms result in reduced milk yield. [Irish Independent]

Calves or calfs:

Calves is the plural form of the word calf, which refers either to a baby animal or to a section of the leg below the knee. Calves is the only correct spelling of this word. Calfs is an incorrect spelling of this word, and is to be avoided. To help you remember how to pluralize calf, remember that calves shares a V with the word victory. Victory over this misspelling comes with the use of calves over calfs.

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"Calfs vs. Calves." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 17 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/calfs_vs._calves>.

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