Correct grammar for Christmas cards

Merry Christmas! I hope your mailbox is bursting with Christmas cards from people you love. Here are some sweet smiles from my cute kids:

christmas-card-2016-2

And now, a little grammar lesson from your eager English teacher. When you’re addressing envelopes (with a beautiful pen, not a ballpoint, right?), it’s likely you’ll run into a last name that ends with an -s. I ran into several this year and thought now was a good time to talk about making last names plural.

Here’s the rule:

When you’re sending mail to a family, make the last name plural the same way you would make any other word plural. Oftentimes, this just means adding an -s to the end, like “Pypers” or “Johnsons.” Or some last names need an -es, like “Joneses.”

Here’s the mistake: adding an apostrophe with an -s. This never makes anything plural. Apostrophes are used to show ownership, not plurality. So this is always wrong:

The Jones’s

This is wrong too:

The Jones’

The correct form is Joneses.

The problem is that sometimes adding an -s or -es to these names looks weird. What about names that end in -y? With most English words ending in -y, you’d change the ending to -ie before adding the -s. But we don’t change the spellings of names—no-no! So the last name “Kelly” becomes “Kellys,” and that might look awkward, but it’s correct.

But there is a way to avoid the awkwardness altogether! We attend church with a family by the last name of Mayers. So addressing their card gave me pause—should I write “The Mayers Family” or “Mayerses”? I think we can all agree that the former is better, so that’s what I used.

Happy holidays! •

 

 

 

 

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