Ah, The English language, so easy and so hard at the same time. With its intricate rules and countless exceptions, often presents a challenge to native speakers and new English learners alike. One such linguistic conundrum is the correct plural form of the noun “life”. In this article, we will explore the question: “Is it ‘lives’ or ‘lifes’?” and how do we use them correctly and effectively.

Understanding the Basics of Life and Lives

Before we delve into the heart of the matter, it’s crucial to set some linguistic groundwork. The noun “life” refers to the existence of a living being or the animate state of plants and animals. The confusion arises when we attempt to pluralize this term. Should we simply add an “s” to form “lifes”, or do we need to alter the word in a different way? Let’s find out.Debunking the myth: Lifes or Lives?

Contrary to what some might believe, “lifes” is an incorrect formation. The correct plural form of “life” is “lives”. This rule applies universally, and there are no known exceptions. Therefore, sentences such as “The Red Cross saved many lives” or “Cats are supposed to have nine lives” are grammatically correct, while “lifes” should be avoided altogether.

Grammar Rule: Why Lives, and Not Lifes?

Understanding why “lives” is the correct plural form of “life” requires a look at a specific English language rule. Many words ending in “-f” or “-fe” convert this ending to “-ves” to form the plural. Examples include “leaf” to “leaves”, “wife” to “wives”, and “shelf” to “shelves”. Therefore, “life” becomes “lives” in the plural, following this grammatical convention.

An Important Exception to Remember: Life’s

While “lifes” is never correct, the term “life’s” does have a place in English language use. This form represents the possessive form of “life” or can serve as a contraction of “life has”. Examples include “My life’s goal is to travel the world” (possessive) and “My life’s been quite a wild ride” (contraction).

The Verb Form: Live and Lives

Adding another layer to this linguistic puzzle is the verb “live”. In its third-person singular form, “live” becomes “lives”, pronounced with a short “i” sound, as in “give”. For instance, “She lives in Miami.”

A Memory Aid for Lifes vs. Lives

A helpful mnemonic to remember the correct plural form of “life” is to consider the word “knife”. The singular form “knife” changes to “knives” in the plural, mirroring the transformation of “life” to “lives”.

Real-world Examples of Lives

Let’s look at some real-world examples to further solidify our understanding:

  • “The nurse’s calm bedside manner and skill have saved numerous lives over the years.”
  • “The rapidly escalating armed conflict claimed hundreds of lives.”

Popular Phrases with Lives or Live

English language is replete with idioms and phrases that use “lives” or “live”. Here are a few examples:

  • “Live it up”: Enjoy life to the utmost.
  • “Live a lie”: Hiding a major truth about oneself.
  • “Live on the edge”: live a risky or adventurous lifestyle.

Summing Up: Lives or Lifes

To sum it up, “lives” is the correct plural form of the noun “life”, while “lifes” is incorrect. Additionally, “life’s” can be used as a possessive noun or a contraction of “life has”. The verb “live” becomes “lives” in third-person singular form. The correct usage of these terms can enhance your English language proficiency and communication skills.

Test Your Understanding: Quiz

Here’s a quick quiz to test your understanding:

  1. She works and  __________ in a small town.
  2. The police offers risked their __________ to save the trapped victims in their car. (Correct spelling)
  3. I really don’t care much about other people’s _______. My life is the only one that matters to me! (Incorrect spelling)


  1. lives
  2. lives
  3. lifes

Remember, practice is key when it comes to mastering any language! The more you use these terms correctly, the more natural it will become. Happy learning!