Archive for February 8th, 2011

Pluralization and Possession when using Last Names

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

It’s etiquette Tuesday!  As a writer, I try to pay attention to customers orders and phone calls to take notice of what people have questions on or what typical errors we tend to see trending on invitations and stationery products.  One of the most common errors we see used is the pluralization of last names.  It seems like a very easy thing to do…just add an “s”, right?  This is not always the case.

When you start thinking about last names like the Smiths, the Jacksons, the Connells, adding an “s” to the end of the name is sufficient.  However, when you have a last name that ends in s, x, ch, sh or z, things can become a bit more complicated.  For these names, you will need to add an “es” thus creating the Joneses, the Marxes, the Busches, or the Gomezes.  Adding an apostrophe does not make a plural, it then implies ownership and should not be used.

If you are trying to show possession, or ownership, this can also be tricky.  Creating possession is necessary through the use of an apostrophe.  In other words, you may stop by the Smiths’ house to see the Cullens’ new baby.

Next time you personalize your return address label or sign a letter from your entire family, think about what you are writing and find out if you’ve been writing it correctly for all of these years.  It will amaze you to find out you may have been adding the apostrophe in the wrong place or pluralizing your family name wrong. Take a stand for etiquette and start writing it correctly from now on!