Plurals and Possessives

Luisa Perkins
5 min readNov 4, 2020

Your Complete Guide to Addressing Holiday Cards

Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

Since we’re nearing the end of the year, I’m here with a timely public service announcement about how to pluralize last names. We’ll go over indicating possession while we’re at it.

First, some context. Since taking the last name “Perkins” when I got married 31 years ago, I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t know how to pluralize properly. It can be tricky and confusing; I get it. Take, for example, my name in contrast to that of my friend Jana Parkin. Our last names are similar, but crucially different for our purposes here today. She and her husband Jeff are the Parkins. Patrick and I are the Perkinses. Note the complete lack of apostrophe in either case.

I’ll elaborate. Why is there a picture of cute foxes at the head of this newsletter? Because they’re going to help you remember these rules. At the risk of sounding Seussian, one box, two boxes; one fox, two foxes.

Let’s say the surname of our furry pals is Fox. The cute Fox family would then also be known as the Foxes. (Alternatively, you can think of the cliché “keeping up with the Joneses,” which was apparently invented when people still knew how to do this right.)

It’s exactly the same with any surname ending in S (or X or Z or or SH or CH*). Just add “-es” whenever you want to refer to all of them. We are the Perkins family, or the Perkinses. Our neighbors the Hopkinses live across the street, while the Jarvises live about five minutes away. Our friends the Leibowitzes live in Manhattan, but our friends the Checkettses live in London. The beloved sisters in Little Women are the Marches. The famous Mets first baseman Keith and his family are the Hernandezes. Are you starting to get it?

*This only applies to names ending in CH if the sound is soft, as in either “church” or “charade” — Burch/Burches or Tisch/Tisches. If the CH is hard (sounds like a K), as in “school,” it gets treated as such — Deitrich/Deitrichs or Bach/Bachs.

Luisa Perkins

Novelist, foodie, francophile. Top Writer in Books. My Patronus is our corgi, Moneypenny.