Pluralizing Last Names - Do's and Don'ts

Family holiday cards. Wedding invitations. A sign for your home. There are so many reasons why you might want to pluralize your last name when writing something, so how should you do it? If your last name is Smith, do you write the Smiths? The Smith's. The Smithes's? (Please don't seriously consider that last one lol).

This article is here to help you make sense of how to make a plural version of your name without it feeling like an English grammar quiz!

The good news is that it really isn't that hard to pluralize your name. With only a few simple pluralization rules, you'll be set to go and make your cards, home décor, and whatever else you want to put your name on (and if you are getting married, you'll be putting your name on lots of things, right? Don't forget to send out those thank you cards!)

So before you go sending your save the date cards, custom party or wedding invitations, or creating really cool signs for your wedding, make sure to follow these rules. It's also important to make sure that your wedding photographer knows these rules if they are the ones putting together your cards or invitations.

Write your entire last name

Your last name is your last name. There are no changes or abbreviations and so it will always be written in its entirety.

For example, if you last name was Spellman, you might be tempted to pluralize the "man" part of it as "men", resulting in Spellmen. This would be incorrect. Use Spellman as the base for all the changes documented below (if you are wondering, this one just ends up as the Spellmans).

Should I change the -y in my last name to -ies when making it plural?

Definitely not. As I mentioned above, your name is what it is. You should never be changing your name spelling. The correct way of handling last names that end with -y is to simply add an -s at the end.

So if your name is Brady, you would write The Bradys and not The Bradies.

No apostrophes

There are no situations where you need to add an apostrophe to your last name. This is because apostrophes indicate possession (meaning that you have or own something). When putting your last name on something, possession isn't usually what you are trying to indicate.

You will simply write your name and then add something to the end of it (as long as that thing doesn't involve an apostrophe). If you get confused, just remember that apostrophes are catastrophes!

What are the rules for pluralizing a last name?

Most of the time, you can just add an -s to the end of your last name. So a name like Smith would be written as The Smiths.

There are a few exceptions to the rule, though. If your name already ends with an -s, or ends with a -z, -ch, or -sh, you will have to add an -es to the end.

For example, if your last name was Davis, you would write it as The Davises. If your last name was Birch, you would write it as The Birches. See? It's easy!

What about a last name the ends with -x?

Some last names can be tricky, especially if there are silent letters. You will often find this with French last names, such as Lamoureaux (if you want to know how to pronounce that, it is like lamb-ah-row).

If your last name ends with -x, you will usually and an -es to the end, unless the -x at the end is silent. If it is silent, you just an -s. So you would have The Lamoureauxs, but the Maddox family would be the Maddoxes.

When do I pluralize a name?

It is important to know when you need to do these things. If my invitation included my first and last name and was written as though it was coming directly from me, I wouldn't have to use any of this. It would read as "You are invited by Chris Thibeault".

If this was written to sound like it was coming from my wife and I (or my family), it would be written as "You are invited by The Thibeaults".'

Rhode Island already has enough tricky words to spell and pronounce. Hopefully this makes your wedding planning and holiday card writing a little bit easier.

Bonus Tip

While we are on the subject of not using apostrophes where they don't belong, make sure to remember that you are saying your "I Dos" and not your "I Do's" on your wedding day!

Start your marriage with everyone's favorite topic: grammatical correctness! Married couples who "I Dos" are statistically more likely to have a happy marriage than those that write "I Do's". I just make that fact up, but it's probably true.