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Hooves vs. Hoofs

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Hooves vs. Hoofs

Plural is not a very difficult notion in English, and rules that apply in order to form plural nouns are quite simple, generally only adding an "-s" at the end of the word, after the last letter. There are, anyway, numerous exceptions, according to the last letter or letters of the noun, which can change a bit the way you form plural.

It is also the situation of the noun "hoof". The word defines the hard part of the foot of a large animal (a horse, for instance), and there are two different spellings of its plural that some people consider correct, and others wrong. So which one is correct, "hooves" or "hoofs", when referring to more than one hoof?

Hooves vs. Hoofs

If a word ends in "-f" or "-fe", the rule usually requires to change the "-f/-fe" into "-ve", before adding "-s", in order to obtain the plural. This is exactly how "hooves" is obtained as the first plural of the noun. But at the same time, there are several exceptions form this rule. For example, "roof", "chef" and others, these do not apply the previous rule, but simply add the "-s", normally, at the end of the word (after "-f"), in order to obtain the plural form. And this is how you get "hoofs".

Now, "hoof" is one of the few words in English that officially accepts both plural forms. More exactly, both "hooves" and "hoofs" are correct and have the same meaning and use: the plural of "hoof".

When do we use "hooves"?

There is no restriction regarding the use of a certain plural form for "hoof" according to the context of your communication. There is no predominant preference of American or British English for any of these spellings. It is only a matter of personal choice, as both words are correct and can be replaced with one another without changing your message in any way.

When do we use "hoofs"?

The same applies as previously. You can use "hoofs" in any context, referring to more than one "hoof", and it is your personal preference that determines you to use this spelling, or the one with a "v".

Conclusion

There is nothing else to remember than the fact that "hoof" is a noun that accepts two distinct plural spellings. Both "hooves" and "hoofs" are correct, due to different rules of plural formation in English.

Hooves vs. Hoofs

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1 Comment

  • Don Lewis
    why is hooves more correct than hoofs and roofs more correct than rooves?
    LikeReplyReport 13 years ago
    • Jane Sullivan
      Hooves and hoofs are equally correct; one is not more correct than the other. Roofs is not more correct, it is just correct, because rooves is wrong. Read the article again.
      LikeReplyReport 12 years ago

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