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Is It Cactuses or Cacti?

When you see two spiky succulents, are they “cacti” or “cactuses”? Let’s look into it! 

Cactuses or Cacti?

In Latin, cacti is the correct plural form of cactus. And this is also popular for English speakers. However, cactuses is actually the correct English plural. Many dictionaries will list both as correct forms. 

A picture of three cactus plants with the words "Cactuses or Cacti?"


So, both cactuses and cacti are correct! Why? Well, the word came from Latin, which has different grammar rules for singular and plural nouns than English does. 

Many English words come from Latin, and it can be confusing when a Latin word collides with English grammar. Over time, new words often emerge. So cacti used to be correct, but now modern convention has created the word cactuses.

There are other words in this category. For example, the plural of campus is campi in Latin. However, now most people say campuses. Another example is octopuses and octopi, as well as viruses and viri

Sentences Using Both Plural Forms:

He walked in a desert full of cacti.

Beautiful cacti filled the yard.

The wild west town was overrun with cactuses. 

He fell into a bed of cactuses and got hurt. 


It is correct to use both the Latin plural cacti and the English version cactuses. Cacti is currently more popular, but both are correct.

Related: Is dice singular or plural? 

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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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