Woman vs. Women: What’s The Difference?

Quick summary

Woman is an irregular noun. The plural form of woman is women (and not womans), as in The panel consisted of four women and three men. 

You probably know that the plural of woman is women. But why is that? Why don’t we use the word womans

In this article, we will show how to correctly use the words woman and women, explain why women is the plural of woman, and give examples of how we use the words woman and women in typical sentences.

When to use woman or women

The word woman is a singular noun that refers to one female adult person, as in I gave my papers to the woman behind the counter. The plural of woman is women, as in Three women were waiting at the bus stop

Why is women the plural of woman

The short answer is that woman is an irregular noun. An irregular noun is any noun that doesn’t form a plural by adding -es or -s to the end of the singular form, as is the case with woman

The long answer is that this spelling change was inherited from older forms of English. The Old English wifmann would become wifmenn when used as a plural. The word wifmann came from the word mann (“man”), which changed spelling to menn when used in the plural. The spelling change of mann to menn follows a similar spelling-change pattern seen in other nouns with Germanic origins, such as the Old English word mus (“mouse”) becoming mys (“mice”). 

Today, the word woman shares its plural spelling change with the word man. The singular man becomes men when used as a plural. 

For example:

  • We only saw one man at the park.
  • The acapella group consists of four men and two women. 

Examples of women and woman in a sentence

To test whether we have grasped this irregular noun, let’s look at some example sentences that use the words woman and women

  • The role of Hamlet was played by a woman. 
  • The Amazons were a tribe of warrior women. 
  • Two women in raincoats stood next to the woman with an umbrella. 
  • The French monarchy was never ruled by a woman, but the English monarchy has had several women wear the crown.

For more clarity on irregular nouns, check out how to distinguish "crisis" from "crises."

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