It’s Grammar Guru’s favorite (and most frustrating) time of year! With wedding season in full force and the holidays right around the corner, let’s do a quick refresher on last names and sign-offs. I’ve said it before, and I’m back because this can’t be said too many times. You just might see a variation of this same message every single year here at StyleBlueprint! I’ve seen too many captioned social media posts, neon wedding reception signs, and well-meaning holiday cards riddled with grammar blunders. I’m here to help you avoid this!

Today is all about pluralizing names when ordering holiday cards, addressing an envelope, or congratulating a happy couple. Watch, read along, and share with the apostrophe-pluralizing ne’er-do-wells in your life!

This mistake is much more common than you think. Here’s a helpful guide for determining how to refer to families or couples using their last names, even in the trickiest cases.

If the last name does not end in s, z, ch, or sh

TO PLURALIZE, add the letter s.

Zoe and Matthew Massey = The Masseys
Sarah and Julia Walker = The Walkers
Bob and Margaret Berry = The Berrys
Wes and Stuart Bishop = The Bishops

TO MAKE THE PLURAL A POSSESSIVE = take the plural form, THEN add the apostrophe.

The Masseys’ house
The Walkers’ party
The Berrys’ address
The Bishops’ company

GRAMMAR GURU TAKEAWAY: Most of the time, you just need to add an s to make a last name plural. Never an apostrophe.

If the last name ends in s

TO PLURALIZE, add an -es.

Jennifer and Daniel Williams = The Williamses
Mr. and Mrs. Cummings = The Cummingses
Holly and Bart Lewis = The Lewises
The Myers Family = The Myerses
The Reeves Family = The Reeveses
The Graves Family = The Graveses
The Jones Family = The Joneses
The Stevens Family = The Stevenses
The Stephens Family = The Stephenses
Beyoncé and Solange Knowles = The Knowleses

TO MAKE THE PLURAL A POSSESSIVE = take the plural form, THEN add the apostrophe.

The Williamses’ house
The Cummingses’ party
The Lewises’ address
The Myerses’ company

GRAMMAR GURU TAKEAWAY: Just because your last name ends in an s does not mean it is plural. It STILL needs an es!

If the last name ends in z, ch, or sh

You will typically just add an -es

The Hernandez family = The Hernandezes
The Branch family = The Branches
The Bush twins = The Bushes

A few strange cases

If the ch makes a ck sound, add an s

The Bach family = The Bachs

If the name ends in a HARD x, add an es

The Cox family = The Coxes

But if the x is silent, just add s

The Gautreaux family = The Gautreauxs

GRAMMAR GURU TAKEAWAY: Sign off with The ____ Family when in doubt!

Signing off and holiday phrases

INCORRECT: Seasons Greetings
CORRECT: Season’s Greetings

INCORRECT: Happy New Year’s
CORRECT: Happy New Year

INCORRECT: We wish you a Merry Christmas!
CORRECT: We wish you a merry Christmas!

CORRECT: Love, _____ (with the comma)

CORRECT: From _____ (without the comma)

Let’s put a bow on today’s grammar lesson

  • An apostrophe never pluralizes something. Ever. End of story. It only shows possession.
  • If your last name ends in an s, you must make it plural. If your last name is Graves, Love, The Graves is INCORRECT! It has to be The Graveses. If you hate that, say The Graves Family.
  • Your phone will often try to stick the apostrophe in there when you write the name with an s, but go in and take it out before your fabulous Instagram photo goes live.
  • If you want to show possession, make the name plural first, then add the apostrophe.
  • When in doubt while signing your holiday cards, say The ____ Family!

Freshen up on Grammar Guru’s previous episodes HERE!


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Zoe Yarborough
About the Author
Zoe Yarborough

Zoe is a StyleBlueprint staff writer, Charlotte native, Washington & Lee graduate, and Nashville transplant of eleven years. She teaches Pilates, helps manage recording artists, and likes to "research" Germantown's food scene.