ROOFS or ROOVES?

Published 24th March 2014
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I had a really interesting discussion with my cousin, who lives in America, the other day.  (Granted it was by iMessage, but it was still a real-time discussion.)  It was all about the word ‘Roof’ and its plural.

We both thought that Rooves was the correct plural, but his daughter’s teacher said Roofs.  So he asked me about it (since I trained as an English teacher way back when).  I admit, I had to Google a bit and do a bit of digging.  Turns out, this is a very hotly debated topic!

Check out the Oxford English Dictionary – surely the best place to look?

For example, while the British-English Oxford English Dictionary states that rooves is still sometimes used, the American-English OED says that only roofs is correct.

So, now I am even more confused….what does Grammarist say?

Grammarist.com points out that Roofs is the plural of roof in all varieties of English, and that Rooves is an old, secondary form that, although still appears occasionally, isn’t common enough to be considered standard.

And now the Urban Dictionary!…

But perhaps my favourite, and most clear, explanation comes from UrbanDictionary.com that says, “rooves – The plural of roof for people old enough to read the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, in fact old enough to know that the real Napoleon was not Dynamite or a brandy.”

Well, that would certainly be my cousin and me!  (*Even the photographer of the photo used here says ‘roofs’ and not ‘rooves’!)

Yes, overall, the general opinion seems to be that Rooves, though once accepted and even taught in the 70s and into the 80s, has simply become an outdated spelling.

Teachers now teach this rule:

Change F to V for words ending in f or fe, and add -s or -es.  For example: loaf/loaves.
Some exceptions are roofs, chiefs and hoofs.

Wait. Hoofs?  Oh please, surely it should be hooves… tell us what you think

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