Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • suffix Used to form plural nouns: letters.
  • suffix Used to form the third person singular present tense of all regular and most irregular verbs: looks; holds.
  • suffix Used to form adverbs: They were caught unawares. He works nights.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • suffix Used to form regular plurals of nouns.
  • suffix Used to form many pluralia tantum (nouns that are almost or entirely without singular forms).
  • suffix Used to form the third-person singular indicative present tense of verbs.
  • suffix used in the formation of certain English adverbs.
  • suffix Possessive in business names.
  • suffix Diminutive suffix

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The suffix used to form the plural of most words; as in roads, elfs, sides, accounts.
  • The suffix used to form the third person singular indicative of English verbs; as in falls, tells, sends.
  • An adverbial suffix; as in towards, needs, always, -- originally the genitive, possesive, ending. See -'s.

Etymologies

Middle English -es, -s, from Old English -es, -as, nominative and accusative pl. suff.
Middle English -es, -s, from Old English (Northumbrian) -es, -as, alteration (perhaps influenced by Old Norse) of -eth, -ath.
Middle English -es, -s, genitive sing. suff., from Old English -es.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English -s, -es, from Old English -as, nominative-accusative plural ending of masculine a-stem (i.e. strong) declension nouns, from Proto-Germanic *-ōs, *-ōz, from Proto-Indo-European *-es, *-oes (plural ending). Most common Old English plural marker (c. 40% of Old English nouns). Cognate with Scots -s (plural ending), West Frisian -s (plural ending), Dutch -s (plural ending), Low German -s (plural ending), Danish -er (plural ending), Swedish -r, -ar, -or (plural ending), Icelandic -ir (plural ending), Gothic  (-os, nominative plural ending of a-stem masculine nouns). (Wiktionary)
Middle English -(e)s (third person singular ending of verbs) from Northern Old English (Northumbian dialect) -es, -as (third person singular ending). Replaced historical Old English third person singular ending -(e)þ, -aþ (-eth). Possibly due to Scandinavian influence or related to -es, -as, second-person singular ending of verbs. More at -est (Wiktionary)
From Middle English -es, from Old English -es ("masc-neut genitive ending of most nouns"). More at -'s (Wiktionary)
By dropping the apostrophe in ’s. (Wiktionary)
Shortened form of -sy. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Look at how -s performs multiple roles in Modern English: the English as a Second Language teacher says the word bridge.

    The English Is Coming!

  • English-speakers then absorbed the French word for the game, employing English variations of the French plural eschecs, including chesses and chestes and chesse, before settling on chess, which carries the vestigial -s ending inherited from the French.

    The English Is Coming!

  • Things might have turned out differently for Modern English if the genitive ending for another class of Old English noun had prevailed over the one taking an -s.

    The English Is Coming!

  • No meaning would be lost by letting go of -s in this instance.

    The English Is Coming!

  • A segment called "Jon Stewart F---s Himself with His Own Mouth" on Tuesday night's episode of The Daily Show is a montage of various other stereotyping, impressions and foreign accents that Stewart has performed on the show.

    VIDEO: Jon Stewart Turns Crack Research Team on Himself

  • "Angels have been just d---s on the show, but Castiel has been the opposite, so we put him in this position where he'd be forced to have to do these things that he doesn't want to have to do necessarily."

    Supernatural: Castiel Bends Time and Truth

  • I'm a huge Andre 3000 fan, too, but when he applies flawless diction to the pronouncement, "B---s got the rabies" - that's when the hair on the back of my neck goes up.

    News

  • I can't believe what my fingers are doing but yes I'm tweeting :-s so here goes...

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • The rest of them are a somehow less creative form of hockey nicknames, which are generally just variants of the person's last name ending in -s, -ie -y or -er.

    chron.com Chronicle

  • With plural -s and third-person verbal -s out of the picture, the -s ending could be reserved for possessives alone: Rachel’s application to Erasmus University.

    The English Is Coming!

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