Plural and Possessive Forms with Names Ending in y

How do you form the plural of a proper noun that ends in y such as Murphy? Should you change the name to Murphies? Given how other English words ending in y form their plurals, you would think so.
puppy / puppies
army / armies
supply / supplies

However, proper nouns are not pluralized the same way common nouns are.
Rule: Do not change the spelling of a name to make it plural. Instead, just add s.
I visited the Murphys last weekend.
We have two Zacharys in our office.

What if you want to show possession with a name that ends in y?
Rule: To show singular possession, use the apostrophe and then the s.
Example: I petted Mrs. Murphy’s cat.

Rule: To show plural possession, make the proper noun plural first, then use the apostrophe.
I petted the Murphys’ cat.
I visited the Murphys’ store on Main Street.

Rule: To show the plural of a name that ends in s, ch, or z, add es.
The Sanchezes will be over soon.
The Thomases moved away.


Pop Quiz

1. I wish I had known the Kennedys/Kennedies/Kennedy’s better.
2. I know three Mary’s/Marys who live in Bangkok.
3. Mary’s/Marys dog is very friendly.
4. If the Kennedies’/Kennedys’/Kennedy’s home comes up for sale, I will buy it.
5. If Mrs. Kennedys’/Kennedy’s home comes up for sale, I will buy it.
6. Are the Church’es/Churches/Churche’s your friends?


Pop Quiz Answers

1. I wish I had known the Kennedys better.
2. I know three Marys who live in Bangkok.
3. Mary’s dog is very friendly.
4. If the Kennedys’ home comes up for sale, I will buy it.
5. If Mrs. Kennedy’s home comes up for sale, I will buy it.
6. Are the Churches your friends?

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007, at 2:17 pm

67 Comments on Plural and Possessive Forms with Names Ending in y

67 responses to “Plural and Possessive Forms with Names Ending in y

  1. Eva Middleton says:

    Which is correct?

    We will respect each other’s opinions.

    We will respect each others’ opinions.

  2. Jane says:

    each other’s opinions

  3. Debra says:

    Rules on “first annual”…..

  4. Jane says:

    I know that some sticklers say that “first” is redundant in “first annual,” but I don’t agree. I think “first annual” is fine because it tells readers what they can expect in the future.

  5. Dana says:

    What if the last name ends in an i as in Would it be ..skis or ..skies?

  6. joann says:

    the last name James: the tickets are Mike Jameses?

    • Since you are talking about tickets belonging to Mike James, an apostrophe is used to show possession. According to the Note under Rule 2 in the “Apostrophes” section of, “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, Mike James’s tickets would be the preferred spelling.

  7. Marc says:

    What is the correct way to write is

    Marcus’ birthday or Marcus’s birthday

    • According to the note under Rule 2 in the “Apostrophes” section, “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, the preferred way to write it is Marcus’s birthday.

  8. Tamirys says:

    What is the correct form?

    Mary’s home


    Mary’s house


  9. Sue says:

    The Browns family or The Browns

  10. Leslie says:

    So last name Bihari would be the Biharis? not Biharies?

  11. Chris says:

    Last name is Carnes, would it the The Carnes or The Carneses?


  12. Deanne Hare says:

    There is a popular piece of artwork being sold these days designed for the home that says, “We do grace; we do I’m sorrys; we do hugs, etc.” A fellow teacher and I were talking about this, and the word “sorrys” came up. The spell-checker certainly doesn’t like that word, and neither did we, very much. I realize that sorry is seldom used as a noun, but was wondering if there is a rule to support this spelling. This one doesn’t really seem to apply because sorry is not a proper noun. Is there another one that would work for “sorrys,” rather than “sorries,” or is “sorrys” just a complete misspelling?

    • We don’t care for it, but “sorrys” used in this way is not wrong. It is a shame that the artist did not write “we do apologies.” Since sorry is not a noun or a name, there is no formal rule that applies to this unusual situation.

  13. dainks says:

    “Humanity’s profanities’ vileness assaults saints’ souls sorely.”

  14. Jerry Nixon says:

    February 25, 2011? Um, who is answering these comments?

  15. C says:

    Our last name is Paradis (the s is silent) how would we pluralize this?

  16. 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?

  17. Lenay says:

    “Beauty’s where you find it…” -Vogue by Madonna
    Is this the proper way to use the apostrophe?

  18. Christine says:

    Plural of ‘Properties’ as in ‘Properties Five-Year Anniversary’. Would it be Properties’?

  19. Alex says:

    How would you go about putting the possessive for family names…for example, would it be “The Thomases’ new house is wonderful,” or “The Thomas’s new house is wonderful,”

  20. Shasta says:

    How is city singular but still possessive? would it be cities’ or city’s?

  21. Jane says:

    I am naming a business and want to be sure the grammar is correct. Gracie Jane’s, or Gracie Janes, or should it be Gracie Janes’?

  22. Kayla says:

    um, what is plural possessive for the word ski?

  23. John says:

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

    I would add a qualification to this – adding es is correct if the ch is “soft”, as in Church, Lurch, Torch etc.

    But if it is a “hard” ch, as at the end of McCulloch, add just an s.

    Mr & Mrs Church are the Churches
    Mr & Mrs McCulloch are the McCullochs

  24. quoc tranh says:

    when you have more than one bloody mary (the mixed drink) is it ‘bloody marys’ or ‘bloody mary’s’?

  25. Wayne says:

    I’m a bit stuck. The original word is Milnerton which we’ve shortened to Milly, if we were to name our pub would it be The Millies Arms or The Milly’s Arms? Like wise awards evening would be The Millies Awards or The Milly’s Award.

    • If the title begins with “The,” the name becomes an adjective, therefore no possessive: The Milly Arms. If you drop “the,” you could make it “Milly’s Arms,” which comes off as a playful pub name. Likewise, with awards, it is far more likely to be the Milly Award than the Milly’s Award, but logic does not always prevail in these matters.

  26. miks says:

    i saw this exam paper with an answer.the question is. “neither of the sick puppies _____ interested in having dinner last night” the giving choices of ans are: is, are, was, were. the answer is was. can you please help explain this to me?

  27. Mr. Wood says:

    I’m wondering who created these “rules” and are other ways incorrect or just not as preferred (to some/many) as these listed here. For instance, do you think that my family can be the Wood’s or must we be the Woods? How would someone know that our surname is Wood and not Woods? Wood’s seems more clear and preferred to avoid confusion.

    • The authors of this website and The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation researched the leading reference books on American English grammar and punctuation, including The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and many others. The rules are based on areas of general agreement among the authorities. Where the authorities differ, we provide options to follow based on the reader’s purpose in writing.

      A simple plural does not use an apostrophe. Therefore, the plural of Wood is written the Woods. If your last name were Woods, the plural would be written the Woodses. Apostrophes are used to show possession. Please see our post Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z.

  28. Milin says:

    Please help me with this example: I coordinate with the calendars of multiple attorneys.

    Would the correct apostrophe use in this sentence be:

    Attorneys’ calendars

    Thank you,

  29. Shelly says:

    Announcing employee’s anniversary. Is it June Anniversaries or Anniversary’s

  30. Mary says:

    the churches’ spires, is a correct possessives

  31. Scott P. says:

    I was wondering if you can help me. My co-worker and I are having a debate about the following sentence:

    Martin and St. Lucie Counties best children’s clothing store is hiring!

    One of us believes “counties” doesn’t show possession and thinks it should be “county’s.”

    Any chance we can get some help?

    • We are happy to help. One of you is half-right: “counties” does not show possession. However, “county’s” is a singular possessive that cannot be correct because the sentence references two counties. In order to show plural possession, first make the singular word plural, then add the apostrophe: singular: County, plural: Counties, plural possessive: Counties’.

      Therefore the correct sentence is Martin and St. Lucie Counties’ best children’s clothing store is hiring!

      We can’t help but mention that they made the sentence more difficult than they needed to. Why not say The best children’s clothing store in Martin and St. Lucie Counties is hiring!

  32. Emily says:

    Made with love by
    The Klocke’s

    Is this right?

  33. Lois says:

    When referring to several people with the same name, and that name ends in s, would this be the correct spelling?
    There are three Loises in our family.

  34. B Lewis says:

    How do i write the plural of my last name which ends in S? “The Lewises are coming to dinner.” or “The Lewis’ are coming to dinner”

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