Writing Tip #62

Never use an apostrophe to make a name plural. This time of year can turn the grammarphile in me into a bit of a Grinch. At least one or two Christmas cards is sure to arrive in my mailbox with a misplaced apostrophe, such as “Happy Holidays from the Smith’s” or “Season’s Greetings from the Fox’s.” Far be it from me to say that I wouldn’t touch those cards with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole, but it takes everything in me not to mark them up with a red pen.

Remember, apostrophes are for possessives and possessives only. When it comes to making names plural, whether it’s a first or last name, there are basically two rules to remember, according to Grammar Girl:

  • Just add an “s.” The Santorellis. The Rheins. The Kennedys. Plain and simple.
  • And if a name already ends in “s,” or ends with “ch,” “sh”, “z” or “x,” in most cases just add an “es.” The Joneses. The Birches. The Marxes.

Got it? Good. Now if someone could try explaining it to my mother-in-law…

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