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What Is the Plural of “Life”?

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Forming plural nouns in English can be a confusing task, with many rules and exceptions to consider. We’ll help you understand the complexities of plural nouns, as we clarify whether “lifes” or “lives” is correct.

White text over red background reads Lifes vs Lives.
Is the correct plural form “lifes” or “lives”? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might think.
“Lifes” or “Lives”: Quick Summary

The plural form of life is lives, not lifes.

  • My cousin is a nurse, and she has helped save hundreds of lives.

“Lifes” vs. “Lives”

English can be a confusing language, with rules that seem to contradict themselves. Take the word dog as an example. To make it plural, you simply add an “–s” to get the word dogs.

That must mean that the plural of life is lifes, right?

Wrong! The correct plural form of life is lives. It’s a common mistake that even native speakers make, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll go over the words life and life’s, and show you the different uses of the word lives

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

What Does “Lifes” Mean?

Lifes doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a common misspelling of the plural form of life.

Many lifes were changed for the better because of his generous donation.

Many lives were changed for the better because of his generous donation.

The confusion isn’t unwarranted, though. Not only do most nouns become plural simply by adding “–s” or “–es,” but there is also a singular possessive word that sounds identical and looks incredibly similar—life’s.

The major difference between lifes and life’s is the use of the possessive apostrophe. Remember, possessive apostrophes indicate possession or ownership. For example:

I want to update my wife’s ring when we renew our vows.

In the sentence above, the use of the possessive apostrophe illustrates that the ring belongs to the wife.

The possessive apostrophe in the word life’s works the same way.

My life’s goal is to make the world a more compassionate and caring place.
One of life’s simplest pleasures is a good cup of coffee in the morning.
Life’s challenges can be tough, but there’s also a lot of beauty to enjoy.

It’s also not uncommon to hear life’s being used as a contraction in casual, spoken conversation.

Life’s too short to waste time stressing about things you can’t control.
Life is too short to waste time stressing about things you can’t control.

Keep in mind that this usage is appropriate in informal settings and should be avoided in formal contexts where formal language is expected.

What Does “Lives” Mean?

The correct plural form of life is lives.

Hundreds of thousands of lives were affected by the hurricane.

You’ll notice that before you can add the “–s,” you have to change the “F” to a “V.” Here are a few more examples that contain the word lives:

The film tells the stories of the lives of different well-known artists.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Many lives depend on the mangroves for survival.

It’s important to note that lives can also function as a verb in the third-person singular form. The base of this word, live, has multiple definitions, but is often used to refer to “continuing to be alive” or “residing in a specific location.”

Hannah lives in Colorado with her grandparents.
My best friend lives right next door to me.
The bird lives in the forest and feeds on insects and berries.
His grandma lives alone, but the family checks on her every day.
The oldest brother moved away, and now he lives in New Zealand.
Graphic displays quote that reads "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
The quote above contains the singular and plural forms of “life.”

“Lifes” vs. “Lives” Recap

When it comes to lifes and lives, here’s what you need to remember:

  • Lives is the correct plural form of life
  • Lifes is a common misspelling of lives. However, life’s is an acceptable word to use.
  • Lives can also serve as a third-person singular form of the verb live.

A general knowledge of how to form plural nouns in English can help you avoid mistakes in written and spoken communication. However, there are many to remember. If you need help mastering the pluralization of nouns, LanguageTool can be of assistance!

This multilingual spelling and grammar checker uses advanced technologies to detect misspelled words, fix misplaced punctuation marks, and rephrase your sentences for optimal tone.

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