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

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

31 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.

  4. Shawna Lovinsky says:

    Is an apostrophe required for: She attended the girls program?
    If you listed Girls Program on an invitation, does it need an apostrophe?

    • If you think of the program as belonging to the girls, then write “girls’ program” or “Girls’ Program.” If you think of the word girls as an adjective describing the word program, then do not use an apostrophe. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Please see our post Apostrophes and False Possessives for more information.

  5. Christopher W says:

    “He picked out his son’s sports bags from the boot of his car as Max and David were running into the house.”
    “Son’s” feels wrong in this context.

    • If both boys had bags, the plural possessive sons’ should be used. If preceding text established that only one son had sports bags, the singular possessive son’s would be correct.

  6. Richy says:

    I noticed there are no examples of words ending with a double S. Do these same rules apply? For example, an entire class? (The class’/classes’/class’s favorite song was the alphabet song.)

  7. Maureen says:

    Tom and Sue Kelly’s house
    Or Tom and Sue Kellys’ house?

  8. Debbie says:

    Please help me with the plural of the last name Moreau. Is it as simple as adding an S, (Moreaus)?

  9. James Ellis says:

    Thanks so much for the clarification. My last name is Ellis, and until five minutes ago I was unsure about how to use apostrophes with my own name.

  10. James Twycross says:

    I’m not certain of where the apostrophe should be in the following sentence: “Anna and the two Catherines gathered up their belongings …” Okay, I suspect it should be after the s but is that correct? Thanks for your kind help.

  11. Crystal Barreras says:

    Join us to celebrate Cruz’s second birthday!
    Cruz’s or Cruz’ Birthday

    Our last name is Barreras.
    How do I make that plural?

  12. Richard Winters says:

    What about names ending in ers. Like Winters or Peters.

    They end in s, but sound odd following the rules for names ending in s.

    The Winterses moved away.
    The Winterses’ house.
    Bill Winters’s car

    Are these correct?

  13. Jeanine says:

    Last name is Williams
    On a Christmas card –
    Merry Christmas
    The Williams’ or The Williams’s or The Williamses?

  14. Thomas says:

    I am not sure if this has been answered already but how do you pluralize a French name that ends in a silent “s”?

  15. Matthew says:

    My son is named Silas. If I want to show possession with his name, would the correct spelling be Silas’, as in Silas’ turn, or Silas’ bike, etc?
    Now that I look at an earlier response it looks like Silas’ or Silas’s are acceptable.


  16. Naman says:

    If we write conscience and Jesus’, then why do we use ‘s again in Prime Minister of Mauritius’s? Thanks.

    • As this post states, there are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing words or names ending in s. The following are acceptable spellings for these names ending in s:
      Jesus’s OR Jesus’
      Prime Minister of Mauritius’s speech OR Prime Minister of Mauritius’ speech

      The word conscience does not end in s. The possessive of that word is conscience’s. See also our Rules for Apostrophes and the post Apostrophes with Words Ending in s.

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