Holmes County, Florida

Family Names

How to Form Plurals

Many people have the erroneous idea that plurals are formed by adding an apostrophe and the letter "s".  This is not the case.  Apostrophes are NOT used to form plurals, but to form possessives (as in the photo's color, John Smith's family and Tom Watts' house) and to indicate contraction or abbreviation (as in can't, didn't and nat'l).

Family names are pluralized in the same manner as ordinary nouns, by adding "s" or "es" (no apostrophe).

  1. In general, if the name ends in a letter other than "s", simply add an "s".   (Some exceptions occur when the word ends in "ch" or "sh" - see #2.)
    • The Allens intermarried with the Johnsons.
    • Aren't you researching the Smiths?
    • Deed records show that the Kennedys were in Alabama by 1850.

    Ordinary nouns change "y" to "i" and add "es", as in babies, but family names are not changed.
  2. If the name already ends in an "s" or "z" sound (or "sh" or "ch"), then you simply add "es":   the Joneses, the Sanchezes, the Wattses, the Owenses, the Simses, the Bushes, the Riches, etc.
  3. If you want to make a plural name possessive, then add an apostrophe after the final "s", as in:
    • The Smiths' house is in the craftsman style.
    • The Kennedys bought the Donaldsons' land.
    • Some of the Wattses' ancestors came from Pennsylvania.



This page was last updated on: 8 Nov 2004