How to Pluralize the Last Name of a Family

How to Pluralize the Last Name of a Family

Remember that time when you had to write 30 Christmas cards to your 30 classmates in grade 3? Life was easy back then. You simply scribbled your first name 30 times over and were free to go back to torturing your siblings.

1 Married with Children

Now that you're a grown-up with a job and a family, things have gotten more complicated. Not only do you have to watch your grammar on invitations, greeting cards, letters and school correspondence, you also can’t get away with just signing them "Jenny." You’re not just Jenny anymore, you’re Jennifer Smith because you married Bill Smith and together you have produced two kids named Apple and Maddison. How do you collectively sign your family's name with so many members in tow?

2 Pluralize Your Last Name

Sure, you can simply sign a letter or card with, "Jenny, Bill, Apple and Maddison." But, while that may work on the card or letter, it will take up a lot of space on the envelope. Besides, what if you have a larger family? Are you really going to waste precious moments of your life writing out the first names of each and every one of them on each of the 44 greeting cards you send to all your friends and acquaintances? The best solution to save time and paper is to simply pluralize your last name, and there are some rules to learn on how to do it correctly. But fear not – it’s not as complicated as you think. A few simple tips will help save you from embarrassment.

3 Rules of Pluralizing Your Last Name

First rule of thumb: Never add an apostrophe when pluralizing your last name. That would make it possessive. So, no Smith’s, Curry’s, Nicoletti’s, Ivanovich’s or Lee’s. No matter how exotic or boring your last name sounds, you simply don’t add an apostrophe. If you've committed that part to memory, the rest is pretty simple.

If your last name ends in “s,” “z” or “x,” add "es" to pluralize it. For example, the plurals of Jones, Knox and Gonzalez would be Joneses, Knoxes and Gonzalezes.

Add "es" if your last name ends in "sh" or "ch." For example, Bushes and Ivanoviches.

Add an "s" if your last name ends in "o," "y" or any other letter not mentioned above. So, Murphy would be Murphys (not Murphies!), Rice would be Rices, Waldman would be Waldmans and so on.

Then, of course, if you think your dog would like to join in the greetings, then go ahead and put an apostrophe after your last name to make it possessive before the noun "dog":

"Merry Christmas from the Bushes and the Bushes' dog."

Tanya Mozias Slavin is a former academic and language teacher. She writes about education and linguistic technology, and has published articles in the Washington Post, Fast Company, CBC and other places. Find her at