A Common Mistake at Weddings and on Holiday Cards

Wedding season has been in full force for many of us, and the holidays are almost upon us. I have seen an influx of captioned wedding social media posts, neon signs behind the dance floor, and paraphernalia celebrating newlyweds the world over. I am sent a couple of screenshots or DMs a week about this one, and it’s a grammar faux pas that can creep into our holiday cards, too. I did an entire episode on apostrophes, but today is all about how to pluralize someone’s name when you are signing a card or congratulating a happy couple. Watch, read along, and SHARE with the apostrophe pluralizing ne’er-do-wells in your life.

If the last name does not end in s, z, ch, or sh,

TO PLURALIZE, add the letter s.

Marty and Karen Yarborough = The Yarboroughs
Sarah and Julia Kimball = The Kimballs
Bob and Margaret Berry = The Berrys
Wes and Stuart Walker = The Walkers

TO MAKE THE PLURAL A POSSESSIVE = take the plural form, THEN add the apostrophe.

The Yarboroughs’ house
The Kimballs’ party
The Berrys’ address
The Walkers’ company

If the last name ends in s

TO PLURALIZE, add an -es

Jennifer and Daniel Williams = The Williamses
Mr. and Mrs. Cummings = The Cummingses
Holly and Bart Lewis = The Lewises
The Myers Family = The Myerses

TO MAKE THE PLURAL A POSSESSIVE = take the plural form, THEN add the apostrophe.

The Williamses’ house
The Cummingses’ party
The Lewises’ address
The Myerses’ company

I know, it is WEIRD! But just because your last name ends in an s, that does not mean that it is plural. It STILL needs an es!

If the last name ends in z, ch, or sh

You will typically add an -es

The Branch family = The Branches
the Hernandez = The Hernandezes
The Bush twins = The Bushes

A few weird cases

If the name ends in a HARD ch, add an s

The Bach family = The Bachs

If the name ends in a HARD x, add an es

The Adcox family = The Adcoxes

But if the x is silent, just add s

The Bordeaux family = The Bordeauxs

Let’s wrap it up

  • An apostrophe never pluralizes something. Ever. End of story. It only shows possession.
  • Your phone will often try to stick the apostrophe in there when you write the name with an s, but go in and take it out before your fabulous Instagram photo goes live.
  • If you want to show possession, you have to make the name plural first, then add the apostrophe.
  • When in doubt while you’re signing your holiday cards, just say The ____ Family!

Freshen up on Grammar Guru’s previous episodes!

Grammar Shape-Up Series: Apart vs. A Part
Grammar Shape-Up Series: Fewer vs. Less
Grammar Shape-Up Series: “Couldn’t Care Less”
Lay vs. Lie: Are You Using Them Correctly?
Apostrophes: Are You Over- Or Underusing Them?
FYI: The Acronyms You Need To Know
5 Words You’re Probably Using Incorrectly
3 Rules You’re Likely Breaking
Everyday vs. Every Day & Other Tricky Word Pairs
Grammar Guru: Prepositions CAN End a Sentence. Sometimes.
Grammar Guru: Are You Getting These 5 Phrases Wrong?
How the Oxford Comma Cost Someone $5M

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