I'm researching proto-Indo-European, and have seen a few remarks which imply that an -es suffix for plural was a likely component of the language (including here on L.SE; Wiktionary). Is this a widespread academic belief? Is the suffix found in many Indo-European languages, other than (in a form) English?

Also, just to confirm: if this suffix is believed to be to descend, did it represent plurality or just duality?

  • 2
    The dual markers, be it verbal or nominal, are very hard to reconstruct. Firstly, the category of dual number is preserved throughout the whole paradigm only in Sanskrit, in other languages either it was lost or preserved in limited distribution. Secondly, the dual endings, that are attested throughout the IE languages, differ from each other, and in most of the cases we are not able to reconstruct a common source.
    – czypsu
    Nov 21, 2016 at 23:11

2 Answers 2


Virtually all IE languages have masculine and feminine nominative plural forms with endings that can be derived from *-es. For example Latin patres. These are plural, not dual.

  • I think the more common plural ending is -i
    – Anixx
    Oct 22, 2014 at 1:18
  • 5
    The ending –i is used by some nouns in nom. pl. m./f. in Greek, Latin, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and ‘Tocharian’. The standard theory is that it is by analogy to the pronouns.
    – fdb
    Oct 22, 2014 at 9:32
  • with what ponouns?
    – Anixx
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:45
  • 3
    For example: the demonstrative pronoun *to- has in the m. pl. nom. Doric toi, Attic hoi, Sanskrit tē, Gothic Þai, OCS ti.
    – fdb
    Oct 22, 2014 at 16:56
  • 1
    Yes. I have corrected it.
    – fdb
    Oct 22, 2014 at 22:57

Yes, in PIE the masculine and feminine nouns in nominative usually had zero ending or -s or -os. In plural these would beciome -es, -oes.

For instance,

u̯lq̆os wolf -> u̯lq̆oes wolfs

pa̯tēr father -> pa̯tres fathers


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