Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Apostrophes and Plural Names (with Examples)

Apostrophes and the Plurals of Names

Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of a name. For example:
  • The Smith's are in town.
  • (Smiths )
  • Did you visit the Ford's yesterday?
  • (Fords )
  • The Bates's will attend the party.
  • (Bateses )
  • Can you ask the Alverez's to move their cars?
  • (Alverezes )

For the Possessive Case, Treat a Plural Name Like Any Other Plural Noun

When showing possession, treat a plural surname like any other plural noun. For example:
  • The Joneses' house
  • (The house of the Joneses)
  • The angels' share
  • (The share of the angels)
When an apostrophe is needed to show the possessive form of a plural family name (e.g., Smiths, Fords, Bateses, Alverezes), the name is treated just like any other plural noun that ends in s. For example:
  • The Smiths' cat has gone missing.
  • (Smiths' is the possessive form of the plural proper noun Smiths.)
  • Have you seen the Fords' new car?
  • (Fords' is the possessive form of Fords.)
  • The Bateses' holiday was ruined by the weather.
  • (Bateses' is the possessive form of Bates.)
  • Take these scones to the Alverezes' house.
  • (Alverezes' is the possessive form of Alverezes.)

Remember, to form the plural of any ending s or z, add –es. Thereafter, apply the normal rules to create the possessive form.
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The History of the Possessive Apostrophe

The principal function of an apostrophe is to replace a missing letter (e.g., don't, isn't). This is related to the possessive apostrophe.

In old English, possession was shown by adding es to the possessor regardless of whether the possessor was singular or plural. For example:
  • doges dinner
  • dogses dinner
  • Smithses dinner
  • Joneseses dinner
Over time, the e was replaced by an apostrophe and if that left an ending of -s's, then the second s was removed.

This process still works for everything. There are no exceptions.

(1) Add es to the possessor
(2) Replace the e with '
(3) If left with s's, change to s'
Read more about using apostrophes.