How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season

Nothing quells my Christmas cheer as quickly as a stray apostrophe. Every year they assault me.

 
How quaint? This quaint.

How quaint? This quaint.

Usually it’s in the middle of an otherwise quaint moment: I am padding around my parents’ house, wearing pink slippers, sipping on some hot chocolate. Snow is falling outside the window, and Josh Groban’s Christmas CD is filling the downstairs with peace on earth and mercy mild. My mother is baking a pie. She's about to ask if I want to lick the spatula (which, duh, I will).

First, though, I find a stack of Christmas cards and begin to flip through them—pausing to marvel at how big so-and-so’s kids have gotten. And then I spot it: an apostrophe in a last name that isn’t supposed to be possessive.

I shudder, flipping past the unwarranted punctuation. But as I keep flipping, the apostrophes do, too—flipping me off, that is. They defile Christmas card after Christmas card, last name after last name with their presence. Gone is my Christmas cheer! All my glad tidings, replaced with fury.

“Did no one teach these people how to make their last names plural!?” I scream as I chuck the cards into the fire heretofore crackling peacefully beneath the mantel.

I watch the cards curl and disintegrate in the flames, and I wonder if I’ve overreacted.

Is pluralizing last names more difficult than I realize? Apparently so. Because we get these cards every year—these cards with their adorable photos and their apostrophe catastrophes.

This year I’d like to preempt the pluralization problems. It’s mid-November now, time to order Christmas cards again. I have created a brief guide to help you pluralize your last name. It is my humble attempt to preserve not only apostrophe protocol but also the dignity of the letter S.

The Definitive Guide to Pluralizing Your Last Name

Last letter(s) of last name What should you add to make it plural? Does it need an apostrophe?
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h (see exceptions below), i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, y -s NO
s, x, z, ch, sh -es NO

Pluralization FAQs

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Q: What if my last name ends in a "y"? 

A: Add an "s." Do not add "ies" or an apostrophe. Merry Christmas from the Murphys. 

Q: What if my last name already ends in an "s"? 

A: Add "es." Do not add an apostrophe. Season's greetings from the Simmonses.

Q: What if the end of my last name normally functions as an irregular noun? 

A: It is not irregular when it is part of a last name. Happy holidays from the Hoffmans. Warm wishes from the Wolfs. 

Q: What would adding an apostrophe do?
A: It would hurt Tiny Tim make your last name possessive.

Q: Is there ever a reason to add an apostrophe? 

A: Only if you want to make your last name possessive.

Q: Why do people add apostrophes? 

A: I have no idea.

If your goal is to make your last name possessive, then, by all means, use an apostrophe. If your goal is simply pluralization, however, forgo the apostrophe. In the spirit of the season, I beg you.


Need a picky pair of eyeballs for your writing? I’m available for freelance editing work! I’m certified by the American Copy Editors Society and have more than a decade of experience editing everything from med school apps to magazine articles. Send me a message about your piece or project—I’d love to help you out. (And, yes, it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition now. Unless you’re writing in AP style, in which case it’s OK. See what I did there?)

 

Christmas Movies

Every day this Christmas break, my friend Marie-Claire and I have decided to join up in our blogging efforts. We will be choosing a topic and posting our own interpretation of it. So follow along with both of us as we share our completely reliable opinions on fashion, pop culture, and life before our last semester of grad school.

What are my favorite Christmas movies, you ask?

5. Harry Potter series

Christmastime at Hogwarts sounds even more magical than Hogwarts during the rest of the year, if that is possible. I want to go to the Christmas feast in the Great Hall and open presents with the Weasleys. Is that too much to ask?

4. Gilmore Girls Christmas episodes

So maybe including a television show is cheating, but Stars Hollow looks like the perfect place to spend Christmas, and I always get the urge to watch this show when it gets cold outside. (The day Gilmore Girls is made available on Netflix Instant is the day that I cease to be productive for the rest of time...)

3. A Muppet Christmas Carol

Our family used to own this movie on VHS, but we lent it to some family friends when I was a kid and never got it back. I am still bitter. I don't remember enough about the movie to say why I loved it, but I know I did.

2. Serendipity

This is not only one of my favorite Christmas movies but also one of my favorite anytime movies. New York City sounds like a wonderful place to spend Christmas, what with the decked out department stores and outdoor skating rinks. Plus, Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack are perfect together.

1. The Family Man

It has come to my attention recently that a lot of people have never seen this movie. If this is true of you, get your hands on a copy at once. My mom bought a copy from the $5 bin at Walmart because I wanted to rent it every single Christmas. It just makes me want to snuggle up in a blanket with hot chocolate and my family and celebrate togetherness. That sounds so cheesy, but it's so true. What are your favorite Christmas movies?

A Christmas Eve Message

From me and Clay Aiken (who will always have part of my heart).

Listen to the note he holds at 2:07. LISTEN TO IT.