Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy holidays from the Jones'? Jone's? Joneses?

I realize I'm a little late in having this be a timely post, but I was reminded several times during the season that the plural form of family names is still a sticking point for most people (even if they don't know it).

Much like the grocer's apostrophe (seen in signs like "Apple's on sale!"), the plural-surname apostrophe often makes an appearance when it should not. Since we're simply talking plural here (not possessive or contraction), there's no need for an apostrophe.

If you have a name like Conklin, it's easy: you simply add an "s" to make it plural, just as you would with apple, chair or dog. Happy holidays from the Conklins. No apostrophe needed.

But what if your name is Morris or Jones? These already end in "s." Well, what would you do with the word glass to make it plural? Add "es," right? Same here. Happy holidays* from the Morrises and Joneses. Look funny? You'll get used to it.

Of course, you could avoid this issue altogether by printing "... from the Jones family." There's always a way out.

Up next: What to do if you want to make it plural and possessive.

* I have intentionally left "holidays" lowercase. Unless the second word is a proper noun (as in "Merry Christmas"), I don't see a reason for capping it. Same with "Happy birthday." Just my two cents.

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