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How to Make Family Names Plural

Making family names plural? More than one sister-in-law? More than one Mister? Learn how to address them properly.

By
Mignon Fogarty
December 23, 2010
Episode #255

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How to Make Family Names Plural

For me, spending time with family is a big part of the holidays, and thinking about family reminded me of a few tricky little quirks of family names and family words that can confuse people, so today I’ll tell you how to make family names plural (even those that end in “x,” “y,” and “z”), how to refer to more than one brother- or sister-in-law, and how to formally address more than one man.

How to Make Family Names Plural

First let’s figure out how to make family names plural. Family names are like brand names, you don’t change the base spelling. For example you make “blackberry,” the fruit, plural by changing the “y” to “ies”; but you make “BlackBerry,” the phone, plural by simply adding an “s” to the end: “BlackBerrys.”

It’s the same with names. “Kennedy” becomes “the Kennedys.” A newsletter subscriber named Julie asked if she should make the last name “Bellman” plural by making it “Bellmen,” and the answer is no. Something like “Bellman” becomes “the Bellmans.”

Some names need an "es" to become plural: names that end in "s," “x,” "z," “ch,” and “sh,” for example:

  • The Joneses invited you to hold ladders while they hang lights.
  • The Foxes decorated four Christmas trees.
  • The Alvarezes went to visit their grandmother.
  • The Churches sang in the top-hat choir.
  • The Ashes got stuck at the train station.

The same rules apply to first names. If you have two cousins named Alex, they are the Alexes.

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