The English language doesn’t make it easy to learn when you have words like calve, calves, and calf, which are all related to cows, but one of those words also means leg muscle. Make it make sense, English! So, don’t worry if you get these mixed up from time to time. After reading my guide, you’ll never make a mistake again.
Calf vs. Calve
A calf is a young cow or baby cow and can be used to describe them from birth to the cusp of adulthood.
Then there’s the ever-confusing calve, which is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means giving birth to a calf, a baby cow. But as a noun, it’s actually the back meaty muscle on your leg. Weird, right?
Is It Calfs or Calves?
The plural of calf (a baby cow) is calves. Some people make the mistake of using “calfs” as the plural form of calf, but that’s definitely not right. It even looks weird when you spell it. If you have two or more baby cows, then you have calves, not calfs.
The same goes for your leg muscles found at the back of your leg. On one leg, it’s a calve, but on two legs, it’s calves.
But then the word calves can also be used as a verb. If a momma cow gives birth, she calves. Here, I’ll show you a sentence because this one can be confusing: Let’s go watch as the mother cow calves.
When to Use Calve
Remember, calve is both a noun and a verb, so using it depends on the context surrounding it.
Are you talking about your one leg muscle? Then use calve as a noun.
Are you talking about how a cow gives birth? You’d use calve here, too, but it’s a verb because it’s an action.
When to Use Calf
Unlike the confusing calve, calf is simply a noun that means baby cow. So, if you’re talking about a young cow on a farm, then use the word calf.
- Betsy, our dairy cow, gave birth to a calf yesterday.
- Veal is from the older calf of a cow.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Listen, it will be tricky to keep it straight, but the way I do it is that the word calve sounds like give, so giving birth and calving are the same.
Sentence Examples Using Calf
- I saw a cute little calf in the field, and now I want a pet cow.
- My dad was a farmer who raised calves for their meat and milk for us but also sold to local distributors.
- We named the new calf Jasmine because she has beautiful dark hair like Princess Jasmine.
Sentence Examples Using Calve
- Our dairy cow is about to calve any day now.
- I would never eat veal because it’s the meat from calves, which are baby animals.
- I can’t go to the gym today because I tore my calve muscle yesterday.
- The farm had a successful calving season this year.
- I can’t wait to have toned calves and show off my new shorts.
Don’t Have a Cow
There’s always going to be confusion about calves and calf. Remember that the plural form of calf is calves, but calves can also mean your leg muscles, and there is no such word as “calfs.” I know this one will be hard to get straight, so try to create a visual for yourself around the words to help you remember.