Plural and Possessive Forms with Names Ending in y or i

Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 11:00 pm

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.

Some of you may be wondering about names ending in i. The rules for pluralization, singular possession, and plural possession are the same as the rules for names ending in y:

Plural: Coincidentally, there are three Pattis performing in that band.
Singular possessive: I have to leave now for an appointment at Dr. Petrucciani’s office.
Plural possessive: Patti greatly admires the Petruccianis’ garden.

For a detailed explanation of how to show the plural of names ending in s, ch, or z, please see Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z.


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. Both Cathis/Cathi’s in our class used to live in New Zealand.

7. Marcin Wasilewskis/Wasilewski’s/Wasilewskis’ piano playing is much admired. [last name is Wasilewski]

8. We’re looking forward to the Super Bowl party at the Wasilewskis/Wasilewski’s/Wasilewskis’ house.



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. Both Cathis in our class used to live in New Zealand.

7. Marcin Wasilewski’s piano playing is much admired.

8. We’re looking forward to the Super Bowl party at the Wasilewskis’ house.

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