When it comes to pluralizing a given (first) name or a surname (last name), there are just two rules to remember: Add es if the name ends in s, sh, ch, x, or z. In all other cases, add s. For example, Georgees become Georgetes.
There is no rule to determine what happens when a given name contains more than one of these endings. For example, there are three ways that Peter could be pluralized: Peters, Petes, and Pites. However, because most people only have one Peter, most references will use the singular form "a Peter" or simply "Peter".
In terms of last names, they always take an s. Thus, Michaels turn into Michaels and Williams becomes Williams.
This is true even if the original name was not spelled with an s at the end. For example, there were many John Smith's living in colonial Boston. Only one of them was called John Somes. Yet because we now know that everyone should be treated equally, we would still say that he was a John Smith and that they were both John Smiths.
It is also important to note that some people may choose to drop their last name entirely. This is especially common among celebrities who feel like they have become too famous to be identified by their last name alone.
Table of Contents
- How do you write the plural of a first name?
- How do you pluralize a last name in a letter?
- Do you use an apostrophe for plural last names?
- Which is the correct way to say the plural of a name?
- How do you make someone’s name plural that ends in s?
- What is the plural form of the proper name?
- How do you write the plural of a family last name?
- How do you make a possessive of a plural name?
How do you pluralize a last name in a letter?
Pluralizing Last Names
- Rule #1: A last name is always written out in its entirety.
- Rule #2: You never need an apostrophe when signing or addressing cards.
- If the name ends in s, z, ch, or sh, add es.
- If the name ends in x, add es—unless the x is silent.
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Do you use an apostrophe for plural last names?
The use of an apostrophe makes the last name possessive, which is unneeded in this circumstance. When make surnames multiple, omit the apostrophe. To make a name plural that does not end in -s, -z, -ch, -sh, or -x, just append -s to the end of the name. For example, Smith's becomes Smiths; Williams' becomes Will-ams.
Which is the correct way to say the plural of a name?
Add es to the end of a name that finishes with a ch, s, or z sound to signify the plural. If a name ends in ch but is pronounced with a harsh k sound, the plural is s, not es. If a name ends in s, add es to the end to make it plural.
Examples: John, Jack; Joesph, Joe; Sarah, Sawsers.
Johns, Jacks; Josephs, Joshes; Sarahs, Sars.
All names that end in a vowel other than o are spelled without an "s" at the end of the word. Therefore, Elizabeth, Ellen, and Anne are all spelled without an "s." However, these names can be pluralized by adding es to the end. So Elizabeths, Ellens, and Annes would be written as if they were spelled Jezebels, Elenas, and Annes.
Names that start with a consonant are always spelled with an "s" at the beginning of the word even if there is only one of them. Therefore, Michael is spelled with an "s" even though there is only one of him while James is never spelled with an "s" even though there are many of them.
How do you make someone’s name plural that ends in s?
To express singular possession of a name ending in s or z, some writers use only an apostrophe. Others add an additional s as well. For further information, see Apostrophes Rules 1b and 1c. To demonstrate plural possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, construct the plural first, then apply the apostrophe immediately. So, the dog's owners' names are John and Jane Doe.
What is the plural form of the proper name?
When we pluralize a family name (a proper noun), we nearly always just add a "s." So we go to see the Smiths, Kennedys, Grays, and so on. When a family name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, the plural is formed by adding -es, as in the Marches, Joneses, Maddoxes, Bushes, and Rodriguezes. Other family names have different patterns for their plurals; they're recognized variations on a theme rather than true rules.
If you were to ask 100 people to tell you the correct plural form of a family name, you would almost certainly get 100 different answers. There are many reasons why people might give different responses to this question. Some people are not familiar with any kind of rule for determining how to pluralize names, while others may follow certain naming conventions for their families but not know it. Some may simply make up answers willy-nilly depending on how sounds like a name when said out loud!
But whatever reason someone might give for giving an incorrect answer to your question about family names, we can be sure that they all miss the point. The correct answer isn't some sort of random selection from a list; it's the only answer that makes sense. If you saw someone give the wrong answer to another person's question about how to pluralize a family name, you would rightly assume that they didn't understand the question being asked. This is exactly what should happen if you use your own judgment about how to pluralize names without knowing the rule behind them all.
How do you write the plural of a family last name?
Names are pluralized in the same way as normal nouns are. Add-es are used for names that finish in "s" or "z," while add-s are used for everything else. If there is more than one owner, add an apostrophe to the plural; if there is only one owner, add "s" to the singular (The Smiths' car vs. Smith's automobile).
So, the plural of John Doe's last name is Doe's.
Doe's is also the correct spelling for any number of Johns Doe's. If there is only one J. Doe, it's spelled Joe's.
Finally, if the John Doe in question is male, then his last name is always written with an "s" even when it's being used in the plural, so John Does exist but they're not called John Does.
Female names usually end in "a" or "e" followed by "s." So, Jane Es's and Sarah Faye'th are both valid last names.
Last names can be difficult to spell and say correctly because many languages don't have letters that represent certain sounds, so they're spelled using combinations of other letters.
How do you make a possessive of a plural name?
Form the possessive for names ending in s by simply adding an apostrophe (Lucas' letters) or by adding an apostrophe as well as (extra: when to use as well as) another s (Silas' phone). A plural name's possessive is usually constructed by inserting an apostrophe after the last s (the Smiths' dog, the Harrises' family house). Sometimes only one s appears on the label or product tag (Elders & Enid's brands), while sometimes two appear side by mid-sized town in New Hampshire (Nelsons' groceries). Occasionally a name will be trademarked with three labels: one with an apostrophe, one without, and one with both.
Some common names that end in s are: James, John, Peter, Paul, Michael, William, Charles, Elizabeth, Victoria, Gerald, Larry, Steven, Christopher, Darren, David, Robert, and Richard.
Possessives can also be made for names that end in y. These names are generally borrowed from languages other than English; for example, French would say Lucas' letters or Silas' phone. Often these names are not found in English dictionaries because they are not commonly used names. Some examples include: Gabriel, Isaac, Jeremiah, Martin, Nathan, Patrick, Rachel, Ricardo, Samuel, and Seth.
There are several ways to make a possessive for a name that ends in i or u.