A Guide to Pluralizing Last Names

If writing out your holiday cards or ordering a sign for the front of your house makes you break out in hives, you may know a few grammar sticklers who like to poke fun. You know the type: the people who own stock in red ink manufacturing and are quick to point out when you’ve misused that apostrophe and inappropriately pluralized your last name.

But have heart! Dictionary.com is here to answer all your questions about how to make your last name plural so you can start stamping those cards or hanging that sign!

How do you make a last name plural?

OK, let’s get the most important piece of the puzzle out of the way first. Don’t use an apostrophe to make your last name plural.

Apostrophes can be used to show possession—à la the Smiths house or Tim Johnsons pad— but they don’t indicate there’s more than one person in your family.

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So, what should you do? If you already know how to make regular nouns plural, you’re on your way to getting it right. A regular noun is singular in one form and plural in another, and it follows some pretty straightforward pluralization rules. Words like churches and girls are regular nouns that have been made plural.

How to pluralize last names ending in -s, -x, -z, -ch, and –sh

We’ll start with the tough ones: does your last name end in -s, -x, -z, -ch, and –sh?

You’re going to want to add the letters –es to your last name to make it plural. In other words, Jane Gomez and Lydia Gomez becomes the Gomezes. Jim Felix and his wife and kids becomes the Felixes. And that family down the street who goes by English? They’re signing off on cards with Love, The Englishes! (or they should be, anyway).

Examples of when to add -es

 

  • Jones becomes the Joneses
  • Williams becomes the Williamses
  • Perez becomes the Perezes
  • Fox becomes the Foxes
  • French becomes the Frenches

How to pluralize last names ending in other letters of the alphabet

Then, just add an -s. This applies to names that end in vowels, names that end in -y, and names that end in any consonant not already mentioned. It’s why the Constantino family should refer to themselves as the Constantinos, and Billy Wilson and his three kids refer to themselves as the Wilsons on their yard signs.

Examples of when to add an -s

 

  • Brown becomes the Browns
  • Kim becomes the Kims
  • Taylor becomes the Taylors
  • Nguyen becomes the Nguyens
  • Bennett becomes the Bennetts

Still worried you’re going to flub the name change? You could always go the easy way: List everyone’s first name. But, then you’ve got that pesky Oxford comma to worry about … nothing’s easy, is it?

 

Maybe it isn’t the name that leaves you flummoxed, but figuring out the best style to write it in. Why not take a look at the different shapes handwriting has taken over time?

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