How do you make a last name plural, anyway? Here’s a helpful little grammar lesson you didn’t know to ask for (just in time to address all those holiday cards).

By Kristine Gill and Maggie Seaver
November 26, 2019
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Should you sign the card, “Love, the Claus’s”? Or is it Clauses? Or Claus'? Addressing loved ones with the correct pluralized version of their last name—even signing your own!—can feel like a grammar pop quiz. Knowing how to pluralize last names—especially the tricky ones that end in s, which already sound plural—is a lifelong trick you’ll be happy to know. And the good news is, once it clicks, it’ll stick with you.

Here are two easy rules for pluralizing last names correctly, according to grammar expert Mignon Fogarty, the host of the podcast Grammar Girl.

How to Pluralize Last Names

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Photo by Corey Olsen / Cards by Minted

Rule #1: A last name is always written out in its entirety. Think of it this way: It’s their name, so you can’t exactly change it, right? 

Rule #2: You never need an apostrophe when signing or addressing cards. (Apostrophes imply possession, which isn’t what you’re trying to do. You’re simply naming them in the plural.)

These rules mean you should write out any last name in full, whether it’s Williams or Garcia, and simply tack something onto the end—again, no apostrophe necessary. As for what to tack on, usually you only have to add an s to the end of their entire last name—even if the last letter is y. For example: the Smith family becomes the Smiths, the Angelo family becomes the Angelos, the Perry family becomes the Perrys.

There are a few exceptions, however, which is where things can get confusing: 

If the name ends in s, z, ch, or sh, add es. That means the Davis family becomes the Davises, the French family becomes the Frenches, the Hernandez family becomes the Hernandezes, the Glaves family becomes the Glaveses. 

If the name ends in x, add es—unless the x is silent. So the Felix family becomes the Felixes, and the Bordeaux family becomes the Bordeauxs.

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