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Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z

Are you confused about how to show the plural and the possessive of certain names? Maybe you know to write I met the Smiths, I drove Brenda Smith’s Ferrari, and I visited the Smiths’ house. But what if the name is Sanchez or Church or Williams?

Rule: To show the plural of a name that ends in s, ch, or z, add es.

Examples:
The Sanchezes will be over soon.
The Thomases moved away.

Rule: To show singular possession of a name ending in ch or z, use the apostrophe and another s.

Examples:
Harry Birch’s house
Mrs. Sanchez’s children

Rule: To show singular possession of a name ending in s, some writers add just an apostrophe. Others also add another s.

Example:
Bill Williams’ car OR Bill Williams’s car

Rule: To show plural possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.

Examples:
the Williamses’ car
the Birches’ house
the Sanchezes’ children

 

Pop Quiz

Choose the correct proper noun in each sentence below. The original proper noun is in parentheses.

1. I’m going to marry Ms. Straus’/Strauses’/Straus’s daughter. (Straus)

2. The Ortiz’/Ortizes’/Ortiz’s dog bit the mailman. (Ortiz)

3. My son can’t seem to get enough of Sandi Finches/Finches’/Finch’s fried chicken. (Finch)

4. The Ames/Amess/Ameses are coming home from vacation tomorrow. (Ames)

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. I’m going to marry Ms. Straus’s daughter. (OR Ms. Straus’ daughter)

2. The Ortizes’ dog bit the mailman.

3. My son can’t seem to get enough of Sandi Finch’s fried chicken.

4. The Ameses are coming home from vacation tomorrow.

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2009, at 9:17 am


40 Comments

40 Responses to “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z

  1. Billy Henderson says:

    Hi! I love this, now i can study for english in peace

  2. Anne Hintch says:

    Our last name is Hintch. I am working with an online card creator and they don’t use plural possessive apostrophes in their card examples. For our Christmas card shouldn’t it be: The Hintches’ Top 10 Moments of 2013 instead of The Hintches Top 10 Moments of 2013?

  3. Jeff says:

    Awesome; and funny! We had a question in some legal drafting on how to pluralize and possess the last name “Sanchez”. Had to laugh when we read the examples!

  4. Karen says:

    I am painting personalized items for Christmas, such as “The Hansons”. How do I punctuate names that end in ‘s’ such as Jones. In the past I have done “The Jones’” but I’m not sure that is right. Other times I painted “The Jones Family” to get around it!!

    • Jane says:

      Family names ending in s become plural by adding es on the end, after the s. Therefore, the members of the Jones family are the Joneses.

      • E says:

        But the family name shouldn’t be plural when speaking of the family unit. If the word “family” comes after the family surname, the family name should remain singular. You wouldn’t write “The Smiths Family.”

        • Perhaps you did not understand Karen’s question. She asked how to “punctuate” the last name Jones as an alternative to writing “the Jones family.” In other words, she was asking about the spelling of the plural and whether or not an apostrophe was necessary. We did not advise her to write “the Joneses family,” but we did reply that a personalized item could be painted with “the Joneses,” for multiple people with the last name Jones.

  5. Kim says:

    How about I appreciated Dr. Strichartz help in this matter. Strichartz’ Strichartzes’??

    • Jane says:

      To show singular possession of a name not ending in s (even if ending with an s sound, like your example) use the apostrophe and an s.
      I appreciated Dr. Strichartz’s help.
      To show singular possession of a name ending in s (such as Jones) some writers and editors add an apostrophe only (Jones’ car) and some add an apostrophe plus another s (Jones’s car).

  6. Vicky says:

    Please help me.

    I ordered a Christmas plaque for my sister and her husband which says

    Christmas at the Henderson’s

    Is the apostrophe correct? I thought there should be one.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you.

    • Jane says:

      Since the plaque implies “Christmas at the Hendersons’ home,” you are correct that there should be an apostrophe. “Hendersons” refers to more than one person; therefore, the apostrophe should go after the s.

      Christmas at the Hendersons’

  7. Rus says:

    How do you punctuate possesion if the name ends with an s like Chris or Rus?

    • Jane says:

      There are conflicting rules about how to show possession when writing names that end in s. Some writers and editors add only an apostrophe to all nouns ending in s. And some add ’s to every proper noun. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent. You can write either Chris’ or Chris’s, Rus’ or Rus’s.

      • AJ says:

        Classically, it is not correct to just add an apostrophe to a last name that already ends in “s” if it is singular possessive. The logic is that all names should be treated the same. If it’s singular, whether a surname or first name, it should be apostrophe + “s.” I don’t care whether it’s James or John. Jones or Smith. If your talking about something that belongs to him, always add apostrophe “s.” For example, James’s bike. Mr. Jones’s house.

        • AJ says:

          Per the Modern Language Association, when “some writers” simply add an apostrophe after a singular proper noun ending in “s”, they are committing a stylistic error.

          • Jane says:

            Not all writers follow MLA format. There are many different formats and style manuals, each one with different rules and practices. For example, a writer for a newspaper or magazine may follow the Associated Press Stylebook whose rule is “Singular proper names ending in s: Use only an apostrophe.”

        • Jane says:

          As we mentioned in our reply to Rus, there are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.

  8. colleen says:

    My married last name is Drewes. I am trying to make a personalized plaque for the holidays. Would it read: Welcome to the Drewes’ Home ?????

  9. Sonja R. says:

    Hi–what would you do with “a fragment of Heraclitus(‘)”–keep the names original “s” and add the ‘? Add “s’s”? Simply say “…of Heraclitus”?

    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      You could write “a fragment of Heraclitus,” or “fragments of Heraclitus.” If you are referring to his writings in the possessive case, you could write either “Heraclitus’ fragments,” or “Heraclitus’s fragments.” Either is correct, just be consistent.

  10. sherry says:

    Can you answer this – Is it
    I Wanna’ Be Buzz’ Girl……
    OR
    I Wanna’ Be Buzz’s Girl….

    Thanks Jane

    • The grammatically correct way to write your sentence is “I want to be Buzz’s girl.” The word wanna is nonstandard, although it is acknowledged in some online dictionaries as a written form of “want to,” used informally.

  11. Becky says:

    Sorry, still confused a bit. My parents rec’d an outdoor plaque for their new home. Their last name is Andrus. The plaque says, The Andrus’s. We thought it should just be, The Andrus’ but now thinking, The Andruses’ if following your guidelines. Correct?

    • The plural of Andrus is Andruses. To show plural possession, make the proper noun plural first, then use the apostrophe. The Andruses’ implies “the Andruses’ house.”

  12. Bedi says:

    My family name is Bedi. I am getting a house name made to put it outside our house. Should it be Bedi’s or Bedis’

    • The plural of Bedi is Bedis. To show plural possession, make the proper noun plural first, then use the apostrophe. The Bedis’ would imply that this is “the Bedis’ house.” However, you could also write The Bedis if you wish to imply that “the Bedis live here.”

  13. Mel says:

    Following the rules, the plural form of the family name Fenech would be Feneches. But what happens when you have a plural possessive of this family name, i.e We took care of the Feneches’ dogs. Would that be correct?

  14. Karen says:

    What about if you are talking about two guys named Chris?

    My dear friend and his partner are both named Chris, do I say the Chrises?

    Thanks!

  15. Dinh Quan says:

    “Though disappoited with this the project’s preogress,Bob’s always kept trying to get it done.” Can help me to understand the implication of “Bob’s” ??? Thanks in advance!

    • The word “Bob’s” is used as a contraction for “Bob has” in your sentence. It is awkward and we recommend rewording to “Bob has.” There are other issues with the sentence.

      “Though disappointed with the project’s progress, Bob has always kept trying to get it done.”

  16. Éda Heloisa Pilla says:

    How do we write the possessive case for the word research in the sentence: The reseach ‘s end?
    Is this correct?
    Thank you

    Éda

  17. Gabi says:

    Thank you very much. This website has taught me a lot and I am no longer confused about possessive apostrophes. I can stop worrying now.

  18. Carol says:

    I would like to order a personalized Christmas plate for a wedding gift. The last name is Spanovich. Should the plate read “The Spanoviches”? Thanks for your help.

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