Dec 10, 2008
Christmas Card Grammar Rant
Aargh, it's the invasion of the misplaced apostrophes! On a Cake Wreck, it's amusing. On a Christmas card? Um. Well.
People! Once and for all, there is no apostrophe in the plural of your family name. There, I've said it.
When I get a card signed "From the Smith's," that little voice in my head says, "From the Smith's what? House? Computer? And which (singular) Smith is it from?"
But you don't have to believe me. Here's the official word, courtesy of Capital Community College Foundation , along with some guidance if you need to get fancy--like all of you with names ending in S and X and so forth.
When a family name (a proper noun) is pluralized, we almost always simply add an "s." So we go to visit the Smiths, the Kennedys, the Grays, etc.When a family name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, however, we form the plural by added -es, as in the Marches, the Joneses, the Maddoxes, the Bushes, the Rodriguezes. Do not form a family name plural by using an apostrophe; that device is reserved for creating possessive forms. When a proper noun ends in an "s" with a hard "z" sound, we don't add any ending to form the plural: "The Chambers are coming to dinner" (not the Chamberses); "The Hodges used to live here" (not the Hodgeses). There are exceptions even to this: we say "The Joneses are coming over," and we'd probably write "The Stevenses are coming, too." A modest proposal: women whose last names end in "s" (pronounced "z") should marry and take the names of men whose last names do not end with that sound, and eventually this problem will disappear.
Ha ha, just don't change your name to one of those names.