Grammar Peeve- Pluralizing a Name

This post had started out with me intending to list a few of my “grammar pet peeves” and how to correct the errors, but as I realize they are like Abraham’s children, (who gets the joke??) based on the popularity (or if I run out of other ideas) this can be the first installment of a multi-part series.

We all have a last name. From time to time, we use our last name as a signature in a Christmas (or birthday, or Mother’s Day, or Valentines Day) card, when referencing the entire family in a text message, or even when discussing the entire family in gossip. It is a necessary part of life to know the proper way to pluralize a last name.  (Pluralize means to “make plural” as in “more than one”. ) This is different than “possessive” which means “to show ownership of something”.


Pluralizing a Last Name:

If you want to say “more than one” of that particular family (or the whole family) all you do is add an “s”.  You do NOT need to add an apostrophe, because that implies possession, such as “The Wong’s vacation home”. That home belongs to the Wong family, so it needs an apostrophe. But if you want to talk about the entire Wong family, and not what they own, (such as when you might say “Merry Xmas from the Wongs”) you only need to add an “s” after that g”. It really is simple.


Smith – Smiths

Ferdinand – Ferdinands (Oh my! Did you hear about the Ferdinands? That poor family.)

Craine – Craines (The Craines are going to the baseball game. Want to join them?)

Putnam- Putnams (Happy Birthday! Love, The Putnams)

Kennedy – Kennedys (notice how it does NOT change to “Kennedies”)

Lee – Lees  (The Lees sure do play a mean game of poker!)


Now, there is an instance where you need to add one more letter than “s” and this is if the name you wish to pluralize ends with “s, x, z, ch, sh”.  Remember the expression “Keeping up with the Joneses”? Think of this every time you want to pluralize a last lame ending in the already plural-sound. All you do is add an “es” if this is the case. Again, no apostrophe, and for the love of everything good under the sun, PLEASE do not just leave it alone! It needs an “es” ! (I cannot stand when someone says “Merry Christmas from the Jones.” Unless the last name is “Jone” then add an “es”.) This particular rule really hits home because my last name already ends in an “s” and you would think I was speaking in Hieroglyphics when trying to explain how to pluralize it to people.


Jones – Joneses

Ahrns – Ahrnses (The Ahrnses will regrettably miss out on the event due to a prior commitment.)

Sox – Soxes (Merry Christmas! Love, The Soxes)

Gonzalez – Gonzalezes (The Gonzalezes have a large house.)

Harnish – Harnishes (Didn’t you hang out with the Harnishes the other day?)

Patch – Patches


If saying “we are going to hang out with the Ahrnses today” is too tricky, you can either :

A) Not hang out with them and avoid ever saying their name at all costs (but please don’t take this option. The Ahrnses are lovely people)

B) Change the wording and say something like “The Ahrns household is hosting us for some delicious hamburgers and hot dogs and we shall partake in this feast”.


I hope I didn’t come across as too aggressive in this post. In my opinion, a name is so closely aligned with one’s identity that it is important to use it properly. Though it is still July, all I can think about are Christmas cards and how, tragically, people botch their own names when sending out beautiful photos of their family to loved ones. (Perhaps as a result of this post I shall be receiving fewer Holiday cards this year.)

Do you have any personal peeves when it comes to grammar or spelling? Let me know and it could be one of my future blog entries!



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