« 21 Ways to Shrink the Email Monster | Main | Correct This Sign »

November 03, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ellen Wynkoop

THANK YOU! I can't believe the number of times I've seen apostrophes used to make plurals. Personally, it's one of my pet peeve's.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Ellen, good one! I like your peeve's.


Cathy Miller

Very helpful, Lynn. Words that end in s can be tricky. I have read a difference of opinion when it come to adding apostrophe s. Example: Arkansas' versus Arkansas's.

If we're sharing pet peeves, mine is a bit off topic (typical):-) Example: it's versus its.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for stopping by. Arkansas' vs. Arkansas's--that's a fine topic for another day.

Your peeve is mine too. Great minds peeve alike!


Bas Pellenaars

The owners of that store must be Dutch. We use "'s" to make expressions plural. Being a Dutchie and living in the US, this is one of the things that occasionally confuses me. Lynn, your article, as often is the case, helps me with these tiny issues and keeps me on the right grammar track.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Bas, thank you for the information. I had no idea Dutch used apostrophes to form plurals. If you see this comment, would you please write this message in Dutch:

--We write reports.

I would like to see what it looks like.

Thanks for stopping by.


Bas Pellenaars

Hi Lynn,

We write reports.


Wij schrijven rapporten.

Although you could use the word report as well, I think. The Dutch are very good in incorporating English words.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Bas,

Thank you for your example. I see that the word "rapporten" does not include an apostrophe in the plural. Can you share a plural that does include an apostrophe?

I apologize for my delayed response to your comment.


Kay Woo

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for another informative post!

This reminds me of a discussion/debate I recently had with a friend. Though it didn't address the same issues, it was also on the topic of making plurals.

The question was regarding the correct way of making the last name 'Morris' plural.

The options were:
(a) Morris';
(b) Morris's; and
(c) Morrises.

I was certain that the correct answer would be (b), but it turned out (c) was the correct answer.

It doesn't make sense to me to modify a last name.

Could you please clarify my confusion?


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Kay,

As you noticed, we do not make names plural by adding apostrophes. We add an s or es to the name:


If the name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, add es to form the plural. Otherwise, add just s.

When a name is difficult to pronounce with an extra syllable added--for example, Hastings as Hastingses--it's correct to drop the final syllable and refer to the people as "the Hastings."


Kay Woo

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for your response.

If I understand correctly, the same basic rules apply for pluralizing names as those when pluralizing other nouns in English.

I'm not sure where I got the idea of not modifying proper nouns from.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Kay,

There IS a difference between plural nouns and plural names. We often change the spelling to form the plural of common nouns. Two examples are:

candy = candies
half = halves

We do not change the spelling of names (proper nouns) when we make them plural. Mr. and Mrs. Candy are the Candys. Mr. and Mrs. Half are the Halfs.


Jennifer Lee Cox

I make it super simple and say "If a word is plural (more than 1), don't use an apostrophe. You'll be right most of the time." (I don't even bother explaining possessive plurals since they are rare.)

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Whoa, Jennifer! Making plural words possessive is not hard. Why recommend that people lower their standards to be right only most of the time?

In my life as a writer, plural possessives are common. I’ll use this sentence as an example: I hope you are not making your coworkers' or students' lives difficult with your way of applying (or not applying) punctuation.

Can I change your mind somehow?



Now if only people would read this article. It kills me how many otherwise intelligent, professional people just toss around apostrophes like candy at a parade.

Ellen - I want to make the assumption that your last line was a clever poke... But these days, I have just seen it too often. It makes my eyes bleed.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)