This is a popular topic this time of year, so thank you to everyone who wrote in asking some version of this question: How do I make my family’s last name plural on greeting cards?
Drum roll please. The answer is: Never use apostrophes to pluralize your last name on your greeting cards. Ever.
The explanation is simple. Apostrophes show possession and are not used to make names plural. When we write “Merry Christmas from the Baileys” or “Love, the Stills,” we are referring to more than one person bearing the name Bailey saying “Merry Christmas” from that household.
The Stills are plural people with the same last name sending their love. There’s no possession; therefore, there’s no apostrophe needed. If we’ve been invited to a “Jingle Jingle Mix and Mingle” party by a family whose last name is Gagnon (more than one person with the name Gagnon), then we have been invited by the Gagnons.
So, what makes this a tricky decision each year when we order our cards for the holidays? Well, here are a few questions I am happy to answer:
Question: What if my last name ends with an “s”?
Still no apostrophe. When we make common nouns that end in “s” plural, we typically add an “es.” For example, the plural of business is businesses. The same is true for names. If the last name is Simms, the plural is Simmses. If the last name is Sykes, the plural is Sykeses. If the last name is Blanks, the plural is Blankses. If the last name is Collums, the plural is Collumses. And when we talk about “keeping up with the Joneses,” even that saying doesn’t use an apostrophe.
Question: What if my last name ends with an “x,” or a “y,” or a “z”, or an “sh,” or with “ch”?
We’ll answer that question with plenty of examples in next week’s post.
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