All the Rules You Ever Wanted to Know about Using Apostrophes and Making Things Plural

Well friends, it’s that time of year again! You are about to receive a glorious mountain of love and friendship in the form of ye olde annual Christmas cards! I don’t get very many myself, but I love looking through all the ones my parents get. They keep them all in a big bowl, and every year when I’m at their house, I sift through them, finding familiar faces and enjoying updates from family friends.

I’m here today, though, to offer a little help to those of you planning on sending out cards this year. I want to talk to you about apostrophes, which are apparently terribly confusing these days. I understand. There are a lot of rules, and a lot of people use them incorrectly, which adds to the confusion. First, let’s talk about making names plural.

Making Nouns Plural

For the most part, the rules for making names plural are the same as the rules for making any old nouns plural. If you’re talking about a whole family full of people with the last name Smith, for example, those people are the Smiths. Here are all the rules.

You probably know that you add -s to most words to make them plural.

  • card – cards
  • tree – trees
  • light – lights
  • present – presents
  • Henderson – Hendersons

You will notice that not a single one of these words has an apostrophe in it at all. That’s because an apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural.

Now let’s look at some words that end in -s, -z, -x, -ch, and -sh. To make those plural, you add -es, and I’ll give you an example sentence with each because these are getting trickier.

  • Christmas – Christmases (When I was single, I only had one Christmas each year, but now that I’m married, I have two Christmases – one with my family and one with Will’s family.)
  • Jesus – Jesuses (They had mismatched manger scenes at incredibly low prices. I cleaned them out of Baby Jesuses, which I made into ornaments!)
  • box – boxes (I wrapped all the boxes, but I forgot to put tags on them.)
  • church – churches (Many churches have Christmas Eve services.)
  • bush – bushes (I put lights on all the bushes in my yard.)
  • waltz – waltzes (Sad songs and waltzes aren’t selling this year.)
  • Rogers – Rogerses (The Rogerses are moving to Baltimore!)
  • Hernandez – Hernandezes (The Hernandezes got a new car.)

Once again, no apostrophes. That’s because an apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural.

Ok ONE more plural rule, and then I’ll stop (though I could go on). When a noun ends in a consonant + y, you change the y to i, and then add -es. **Note: Family names ending in -y do not change according to this rule. If a family’s last name ends in -y, just add an -s to it. (Clearys, Grimsbys)**

  • family – families family’s
  • mommy – mommies mommy’s
  • puppy – puppies puppy’s

Say it with me. An apostrophe is NEVER necessary when making a word plural. Ever.

Using Apostrophes

So what the heck do we use apostrophes for? Well, two things:

  1. Making contractions – When you smush two words together so hard that some of the letters pop out and fly away, you put an apostrophe there to mourn their absence. RIP “i” from is in it’s, the contraction of it and is. *moment of silence* So long fair “o” from not in aren’t, the contraction of are and not. *bows head*
  2. Making possessives – There are a few rules about this, and it gets a little sticky, but I think you can do it. Let’s go!

Here are the rules for using apostrophes to make possessives:

  1. Singular noun + ‘s – If a noun is singular, just add an apostrophe and s to make it possessive.
    – Bob’s car (1 man, 1 car)
    – the dog’s toys (1 dog, many toys)
    – Raleigh’s unemployment rate (1 city, 1 rate of unemployment)
    – James’s house (1 man, 1 house)
    – the bus’s tires (1 bus, many tires)
  2. Plural noun ending in -s + ‘ – If a noun is plural and ends in -s, you only need to add an apostrophe to make it possessive. You do not need another s at the end.
    – the dogs’ toys (many dogs, many toys)
    – the Joneses’ house (a family of many people with the surname Jones, 1 house)
    – the cities’ unemployment rates (many cities, many rates of unemployment)
    – my friends’ apartments (many friends, many apartments)
    – the buses’ tires (many buses, many tires)
  3. Plural noun not ending in -s (men, women, children, teeth, geese, etc.) + ‘s – Some plural nouns are irregular. They do not end in -s like normal plural nouns. To make these nouns possessive, you must add an apostrophe AND an s.
    – men’s jackets (many men, many jackets)
    – geese’s wings (many geese, many wings)
    – the children’s toys (many children, many toys)
    – people’s opinions (many people, many opinions)

Sample Christmas Card

So here’s some text from a sample Christmas card with corrections made:

Merry Christmas from the Jones’s Joneses!

We have had a great year! Both boy’s boys’ baseball team’s teams went to the playoff’s playoffs, and Tyler’s team won! Skylar’s team lost in the last game, but Sklyar was chosen as one of the MVP’s MVPs!

This is for educational purposes only. I swear I’m not trying to be a douche.

There you go, friends! The more I write, the more pedantic I feel, but I promise I’m not trying to be condescending or judgmental. I just want your loved ones to appreciate your sweet holiday card sentiments without losing respect for you. I know you’re smart, and I don’t want you to shoot yourself in the foot with apostrophes gone wild. If you have any questions about this AT ALL, please ask. I am more than happy to help you out!

Happy Holiday’s Holidays!

Author: beth

I'm told that I'm cleverly stupid, and that's why people are friends with me. And here I thought it was because I was so dang cute...

2 thoughts on “All the Rules You Ever Wanted to Know about Using Apostrophes and Making Things Plural”

  1. Hey, thank’s, beth!!!! I totally “understand” these rule’s now about the funny high comma thingy. So easy! Howd I not get it before?.

    “Happy Thank’sgiving’s” to you and all your readers’!!!
    Hope you all try Rachels’s trifle recipe thi’s year, its “delicious”?!

    -Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani

Leave a Reply to Joey Tribbiani Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *