How To Make Your Last Name Plural (And Keep The Grammarians Off Your Back)

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 hang 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—a la the Smiths’ house or Tim Johnson’s pad— but they don’t indicate there’s more than one person in your family.

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.

But let’s get specific about names, shall we?

We’ll start with the tough ones: Does your last name end in S, X, Z, CH, or 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 become the Gomezes. Jim Felix and his wife and kids become the Felixes. And that family down the street who goes by English? They’re signing off on cards “Love, The Englishes!” (or they should be, anyway).

Does your name end in any other letter 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.

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?

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