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What’s the Plural of Shelf?

Shelf plural is shelves. Most nouns that end in f/fe use ves as a plural.

What’s the plural of “shelf”?

  • The plural of shelf is shelves.

  • Shelves (pl. n.) is the only recognized plural of shelf. Shelfs is incorrect, and not the plural for shelf.

Shelf originates from the Germanic languages; unsurprisingly, so do the other irregular plurals within its same category (i.e., irregular plurals that end in -f/-fe.)  Wolf, hoof, scarf, loaf, and so on, each substitutes the -f/-fe in the singular with the -ves to show plural.

What’s a “shelf”?

As a matter of course, we define subject topics first. on shelf/shelves: “a thin, flat length of wood, metal, etc. fixed horizontally at right angles to a wall and used for holding things.”

Nouns that end in -f/-fe and -ves

See the chart:

knife knives
life lives
shelf shelves
self selves
half halves
Nouns ending in -f/-fe and –ves. Chart by Grammarflex.

Examples with shelf (singular) in sentences

She stretched up to reach the top shelf.

Put the vase on the shelf.

We don’t have much shelf space.

The shelf fell off and all the books went tumbling down on Vasya.

Will you get that book down off the shelf?

Examples with shelves (plural) in sentences

She stared straight at the liquor on the shelves as if the Jager had insulted her mother

More food items lined the shelves of both.

The shelves were covered with ornaments and useless knick-knacks.

Glass and plastic objects lined the shelves.

There were shelves running across every wall from floor to eye level.

Synonyms for shelf

  • counter
  • cupboard
  • ledge
  • rack

Origin of shelf

From etymonline on shelf:

Middle Low German schelf “shelf, set of shelves,” or perhaps from Old English cognate scylfe, which could have meant “shelf, ledge, floor” (the sense is uncertain), and scylf “peak, pinnacle,” from Proto-Germanic *skelf- “split”.

Read more on plural nouns


  1. Origin of shelf.
  2. Definition of shelf.

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