One of the most difficult languages in the world to learn is English. There are many contradictions to the rules and many complications. People who attempt to learn English as their second language often struggle with grammar because of the many rules English seems to break. There are a lot of words that you have to memorize in order to spell correctly because they don’t have a specific format.
Spelling for some words may seem somewhat intuitive, but it can often surprise you. A word that that might confuse you because of its ending is the word valley. Perhaps you’ve seen a lot of noun ends be “y” and think you’ve got a grasp on how to make them plural nouns by dropping the “y” and replacing it with “ies.” However, not all words that end with “y” follow this rule, like our word of the day, valley.
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The plural for valley is valleys. Not to be confused with the common misspelling, “vallies.” This can be confusing because there are a lot of word forms where the ending changes when it becomes plural. There are plenty of examples such as “penny’ turning into “pennies” or “carry,” which becomes “carries.” Learning how to tell when this rule applies can take some time and practice.
This is because sometimes, a “y” acts as a consonant. In these cases, the plural ending of the word is usually just an s.
Is Valleys a Word?
Valleys is a word, and it is the correct plural for the word valley. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of valley is “an elongate depression of the earth’s surface usually between ranges of hills or mountains.” It is also defined as “a low point or condition.” Valley can be used literally to describe a region of the Earth, or it can be used to describe how someone is feeling mentally. For example, “getting fired from his job was a valley for him during this year.”
A valley, when discussed in the context of geology, is a depression that is longer than it is wide. There are different shapes of valleys, including U-shaped and V-shaped.
The History and Origin of the Word
One of the best ways to understand a word is to learn where it came from. A word’s etymology can reveal a lot about the changes a word has gone through to get to where it is today in modern English. According to EtymOnline.com, the noun valley originated in the 1300s from the Middle English valey. It also has Latin roots from the word vallis and the Old French valee. The term “valley girl” was made popular in 1982 from the song by Frank Zappa.
A word very similar to valley in origin is “vale,” which is defined as “the river-land between two ranges of hills.” This term is now mainly used in poetry and other forms of literature. It is very common for words in English to have roots in several other languages. The majority of the English language is derived from Latin and Greek.
This is part of the reason why plurals and grammatical concepts, in general, can be so difficult to learn in English. Most of the language is borrowed from other languages, and English sometimes picks and chooses which concepts it likes and which ones it wants to ignore.
Examples of the Word in Context
Another good way to learn a word and apply it to your vocabulary is to hear it used properly. Reading it or hearing a word used in its correct context is a great way to learn how to use it yourself. Here are some common example sentences of the word valley used in conversation:
“In order to get across the deep valley floor, we have to cross the bridge.”
“Some of the first human societies originated in river valleys.”
“The water flows parallel to the ice margin to reach the basin, forming huge, flat valleys.”
“Box valleys are common in periglacial areas, but also occur in tropical regions.”
“My favorite flower is the lily of the valley.”
Synonyms for Valley
Because the word valley applies to so many types of regions and has multiple meanings, it has many synonyms. This can aid in understanding a word better if you are able to associate the word with other words you already know, so we’re here to be your thesaurus.
Here are some common synonyms:
Dale: “a wide, open area that stretches between hills”
Vale: “a valley or earthly life.” (ex. Vale of tears)
Hollow: “a hole or depression in something.”
Depression: “a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area.”
Basin: “a topographic region in which all water drains to a common area”
There are many different famous valleys in the world, such as the Barun Valley in Nepal, the Kalalau Valley in Hawaii, the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, or the Yosemite Valley in California. All of these places are known as being breathtakingly beautiful for their scenery.
Valleys are usually formed over thousands of years naturally through a process known as erosion. This means the earth is gradually worn down by wind and water, causing a depression in the land, which forms a valley.
Sometimes you may think you have got the hang of English grammar rules, and then they surprise you. Growing up learning English is difficult because there are so many things to remember that just don’t make sense. Of course, when you look deeper at English’s contradictions and the origination of a word from a different language, it starts to become clear why everything is not cut and dry.
Valley is a word that seems like it should follow English’s bizarre rules but actually doesn’t. So the next time you want to mention more than one valley, make sure you don’t spell it, “vallies.”
Now that you have reached the end of this article, you are fully prepared to use the word valley and its plural form in your written and spoken communication. Good luck!
Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.