Flys or Flies – What’s the Difference?

Marcus Froland

English can be a tricky language, full of nuances and exceptions that can trip up even the most diligent learners. One common source of confusion? Words that sound the same but have different meanings or uses. Take “flys” and “flies,” for example. They’re pronounced identically, yet one often leaves writers scratching their heads wondering which to use when.

This mix-up isn’t just a minor speed bump on the road to English proficiency; it’s a reflection of the larger challenges that come with mastering this global lingua franca. But don’t worry, we’re here to shed light on this conundrum, guiding you through the rules and exceptions in a way that’s easy to understand. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, we’ll reveal something that might just surprise you.

The main question is about the difference between flys and flies. Simply put, “flies” is the correct plural form of the noun “fly,” which refers to the insect. It also serves as the third person singular present tense of the verb “to fly,” meaning to move through the air. On the other hand, “flys” is often a mistake and not commonly used in standard English. However, it may appear in certain brand names or as a stylistic spelling in informal contexts. So, when talking about more than one insect or describing something flying, remember it’s always “flies.”

Understanding the Basics: Singular and Plural Forms

Learning the ins and outs of singular and plural noun forms, as well as proper English grammar rules, can greatly improve your written and spoken communication skills. Let’s explore how to create plural forms for different types of nouns, particularly those that end with the letter Y.

When it comes to singular and plural nouns in the English language, there are some general rules to follow. Typically, the plural form of a noun is created by adding an “S” to the end of the singular form. For example, the plural of dog is dogs, and the plural of tree is trees. However, not all nouns follow this straightforward pattern.

For nouns ending in “Y,” the plural is made by changing the “Y” to “I” and adding “ES,” resulting in words such as “flies.”

Notably, this rule applies not only to nouns but also to verbs ending with the letter “Y.” Third-person singular present tense verbs, such as “reply,” “apply,” and “spy,” follow the same pattern. They become “replies,” “applies,” and “spies,” respectively.

Noun Plural Noun
City Cities
Baby Babies
Party Parties
Verb Third-Person Singular Present Verb
Reply Replies
Apply Applies
Spy Spies

By familiarizing yourself with these English grammar rules for making nouns plural and conjugating verbs, you can communicate more effectively and avoid common mistakes in your writing.

When to Use ‘Flies’: Exploring Its Role as a Noun and Verb

Understanding when and how to use the word ‘flies’ correctly is essential for precise communication. Let us examine its context as a noun for the plural form of the insect and as a verb in the third person singular present tense.

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The Plural of the Insect: A Look at ‘Flies’ as a Noun

When referring to the insect’s plural form, ‘flies’ is the correct noun. This term is applicable to various types of winged insects such as fruit flies, house flies, and others. It is crucial to use “flies” when talking about multiple instances of the insect, whether in everyday conversation or written English. Here are some examples:

Spiders like to eat flying insects, such as fruit flies.

My daughter loves learning about true flies in her biology class.

Navigating English Verbs: Using ‘Flies’ in Sentences

As a verb, ‘flies’ is the third person singular present tense form of ‘to fly,’ signifying movement through the air. It is essential to understand and apply this conjugation when using pronouns like ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘it’ together with the verb ‘to fly.’ The same rule applies to other verbs that end with ‘Y,’ such as ‘reply,’ ‘apply,’ and ‘spy.’

Let’s explore some usage examples:

  • She flies to Mexico every year for vacation.
  • That bird flies very slowly across the sky.
  • The eagle flies majestically above the mountains.

Below, find a table that outlines various conjugations for the verb ‘to fly’ with different subjects:

Subject Pronouns Present Tense Past Tense Participle
I / You / We / They fly flew flown
He / She / It flies flew flown

Mastery of the plural form of insects as a noun and the present tense conjugation of the verb ‘to fly’ will contribute to your overall understanding and correct usage of English language principles.

The Common Confusion: Why ‘Flys’ Is a Spelling Mistake

In today’s English language, the word “flys” is not recognized as valid for either the noun or verb forms related to “fly.” That said, many people often confuse “flys” with “flies,” leading to common spelling errors in both written and spoken English.

When looking at language usage over the past 200 years, there has been a consistent preference for the correct English spelling “flies.” Following the standard patterns of English grammar, the word “flys” has been obsolete since the 19th century, except for a rare historical context where “flys” was used as the plural noun for a specific type of four-wheeled vehicle.

Remember, “flys” is not recognized in contemporary English for either the noun or verb forms related to “fly.”

To demonstrate the widespread confusion and flys mistake among English speakers, let’s analyze a list of incorrect and correct usages:

  1. Incorrect: “The flys are everywhere.”
  2. Correct: “The flies are everywhere.”
  3. Incorrect: “She flys to London.”
  4. Correct: “She flies to London.”

It is essential to understand the correct spelling and usage of “flies” in order to communicate effectively and avoid these common errors.

Incorrect Spelling Correct Spelling
Flys are pests Flies are pests
She flys a plane She flies a plane
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The usage of “flys” as a noun or verb is incorrect and not recognized in modern English. Appropriately applying the correct English spelling “flies” in your communication not only eliminates common spelling errors but also enhances the clarity and credibility of your message.

Historical Context: The Exception of ‘Flys’ in the 19th Century

While “flys” is now considered an incorrect spelling for both the plural of the insect and the third-person singular present tense of the verb “to fly,” there was a time when it held a different meaning. In the 19th century, “flys” was an accepted term in the historical English language to denote a specific type of transportation.

From Transportation to Insects: The Evolution of ‘Flys’

Back in 19th century England, the term “flys” referred to a distinct, four-wheeled vehicle powered by human legs. This type of transportation was prevalent during that period and played a crucial role in people’s daily lives. However, over time, English language usage evolved, and the word “flys” began to lose its relevance as a noun representing these human-powered vehicles.

As the years passed, the historical usage of “flys” as a term for these vehicles became obsolete, and the word started to disappear from the vernacular. The correct plural form, “flies,” emerged as the only accepted word for both the insect and the verb conjugation. Consequently, a shift occurred, and “flys” became irrelevant and inaccurate for both past and present contexts, except in very detailed historical fiction.

“Flys” was once the correct plural form of a specific type of four-wheeled vehicle powered by human legs, prevalent in 19th-century England.

It is essential to remember that, in the present-day English language, “flys” should not be used to represent the plural of the insect or the verb conjugation. When referring to these terms, always use “flies” and be mindful of the historical context where “flys” was once valid.

Writing It Right: Examples of ‘Flies’ in Literature

Throughout history, many famous authors have used the word “flies” in their works to emphasize proper spelling and reinforce accurate usage. These literary examples illustrate the different contexts concerning the noun and verb forms of “flies” and will help you recognize and appreciate the correct usage in literature.

Discover How Famous Authors Used ‘Flies’ in Their Works

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien in The Children of Húrin: “No power of Morgoth would suffer any of his foes now to come between him and Túrin; and forever he would dwell in Amon Rûdh, or wander far afield, and so blind the children of Húrin to their bane. But so it might not be; for though he was bound to the land and far beyond the hearing of the cry that only the Children of Húrin could give, yet still the Word carried, and the flies of Morgoth were loose in the land.”
  2. Herman Melville in Moby Dick: “Yet, even while she was under impressed sail, Ahab sought opportunities of making short snatches from his final whale; and keeping an eye on the course he steered, and did but forty days’ sail between; and, like swift-fleeting Perseids, they seemed throwing forward their eager faces, as if prying up the edge of the horizon, like a fruit fly.”
  3. Shannon Hale in Goose Girl: “The woman tried to swat away the bothersome flies; she did not see the white bird watching her from the eaves. Nor did anyone present notice, as white birds are a commonplace.”
  4. Cassandra Clare in City of Heavenly Fire: “She was a unique demon in her gift of flight. Years before, her wings had been torn from her, and now she flew on the insubstantial shimmering air that surrounded her like the wings of an insect“.
  5. Neil Gaiman in American Gods: “As the flies or the bees or the butterflies, but she could still feel the deep stirring vibrations that the wheel of the ferris wheel made as it went around and around in the sky.”
  6. E.B. White in Charlotte’s Web: “The flies on Uncle’s pen were much to Wilbur’s liking, but the spiders-not so much. There were a couple of small adelgids that evidently belonged to the genus Aphis.”
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These literary examples underscore the importance of using “flies” correctly in writing, especially when it comes to renowned works by celebrated authors. By familiarizing yourself with these instances, you can develop a deeper understanding of the correct usage of “flies” and apply it to your everyday writing.

Conclusion: Solidifying Your Understanding of ‘Flys’ Versus ‘Flies’

As you enhance your mastery of English grammar and spelling, it’s crucial to understand the difference between “flies” and the incorrect form “flys.” When adding an “S” to the word “fly,” always choose the valid form “flies” for both the plural noun and verb conjugation. By avoiding the non-existent word “flys,” you demonstrate your command of proper word usage and expertise in written and spoken communication.

Consider the historical context surrounding “flys” to reinforce your understanding; remember that its sole relevance was in 19th-century England as the plural form of a specific human-powered vehicle. In all other instances, rely on the accurate form “flies” to denote the insect or verb action related to flying. This knowledge allows you to engage fluently with literature and other communications where the word “flies” might appear.

Practice and repetition are key to mastering the correct usage of “flies” in various contexts. By embracing the examples, explanations, and mnemonic devices provided, your language skills will continue to grow and improve, ensuring your success in producing professional-quality written and spoken English content. May your linguistic journey thrive as you confidently distinguish between “flies” and “flys”.

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