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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.
Examples:
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.
Examples:
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.
Examples:
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.
Examples:
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


26 Comments

26 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 ..ski? Would it be ..skis or ..skies?

  6. joann says:

    the last name James: the tickets are Mike Jameses?

    • Jane says:

      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 Grammarbook.com, “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

    • Jane says:

      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

    or

    Mary’s house

    Thanks

    • Jane says:

      Either one is grammatically correct. Your choice of word depends on the context of the sentence. A house is a type of building but homes can be different kinds of residences such as houses, apartments, mobile homes, etc.

  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?

    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      Our blog Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z says, “To show the plural of a name that ends in s, ch, or z, add es.” Therefore, write 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?

    • Jane says:

      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.”
    Yes?

  14. Jerry Nixon says:

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

    • As we note under the “About Jane” tab on the website, the GrammarBook.com staff is fulfilling Jane’s wishes by maintaining the activities of the website. For the first three years following her death, in respect for her memory and to continue her legacy, we were using “Jane says” in answering the comments. However, we are now responding as “GrammarBook.com says.”

  15. C says:

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

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