Nov 27

Happy Holidays from the Gripes

For some reason, people love to create plurals by adding an apostrophe. Or should I say, “to create plural’s.” (The answer is no. No I should not. And neither should you.)

This is especially evident during the festive season, when most of us have some sort of holiday or other to celebrate, and we attempt to wish others well, from our family to theirs. But hardly any of us really know how to make a family–be it Smith, Jones, Lopez, Li, Giordano, Horowitz, or Komorovsky-Child–plural.

The short answer is “without ever using an apostrophe.” Apostrophes are for possession, as in “Mrs. Smith’s credit card debt,” “Davey Jones’s (or Jones’) locker,” “Mr. Lopez’s favorite song,” “The Lis’ front yard,” “The Giordanos’ pool party,” or “the Horozitzes’ golden retriever.”

This terrific reminder in Slate–note the text box suitable for printing, clipping, and affixing to the fridge or laptop screen–spells out the refreshingly minimal rules for making last names plural without inadvertently making them also possessive. Most will just take an “s,” like the Smiths, Lis, and Giordanos; ones that already end with a “s” or “z” sound will get an “-es” (like axes, messes, spritzes, boxes, and buses): Joneses, Lopezes, Horowitzes. And much as I would love to get a Christmas card from the Komorovsky-Children, I can only hope from one from all the the Komorovsky-Childs.

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