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 SmithsI 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 with a chs, or z sound, add es. If a name ends in ch, but is pronounced with a hard k sound, its plural will require s, rather than es.
The Sanchezes will be over soon.
The Thomases moved away.
The Churches have arrived but the Bohmbachs are running late.

Rule: To show singular possession of a name ending in ch, add ’s on the end of the name.
Example: Harry Birch’s house

Rule: To show singular possession of a name ending in s or z, some writers add just an apostrophe. Others also add another s. See Rules 1b and 1c of Apostrophes for more discussion.
Bill Williams’ car OR Bill Williams’s car
Mrs. Sanchez’s children

Rule: To show plural possession of a name ending in sch, or z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.
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 Thursday, September 7, 2017, at 8:02 pm

6 Comments on Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z

6 responses to “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z

  1. Mollie Player says:

    The one I get stuck on is children’s. Most people write children’s, but shouldn’t it be childrens’?

  2. Dinah Rogers says:

    There is another annoying if not downright incorrect use of “well” that is spoken and appears in text within certain communities. It is used as an adverb to modify a certain kind of verb. At first it just seems superfluous. But it’s more than that. Example: My husband loves our children well. The addition of “well” is meant to add the characteristics of (perhaps) skill, creativity, commitment—something that sets his love apart from the masses of other dads’ mundane love for their kids. When my dad passed away, a friend sent this message: Grieve well, my friend. The admonition is to do a good job of it—not mere sobbing but with significance, with heart and soul. I guess.
    The use with this connotation is applied only to abstract or romantic verbs—love, serve, live, dream, worship—not everyday actions such as cook, drive, plant, clean, study. This is my first analysis of this trend and it’s difficult to pinpoint the nuances.
    What is your take on this quirky use of “well”?

  3. Lennex D. says:

    What would the plural of Dennis be? Dennises? And the plural possessive, Dennises’s?

    • Yes, you and your family would be the Dennises. If we were speaking of something belonging to your family, say your house, it could be the Dennises’s or the Dennises’ house. We would favor Dennises’ because that’s probably how we would pronounce it when speaking.

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