Plural last name

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Woods is the last name of the family. Which is correct? The Woods went to the fair or The Woodses went to the fair.

asked Nov 28 '12 at 00:12 Stephanie Boyd New member

1 answer


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Hey Stephanie,

 

It's a great question that confounds a lot of native English speakers.  So I myself wasn't at all sure of the correct answer.  Here is what I found online, on this website which looks quite reputable: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm

 

When a family name (a proper noun) is pluralized, we almost always simply add an "s." So we go to visit the Smiths, the Kennedys, the Grays, etc. When a family name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, however, we form the plural by added -es, as in the Marches, the Joneses, the Maddoxes, the Bushes, the Rodriguezes. Do not form a family name plural by using an apostrophe; that device is reserved for creating possessive forms.

 

When a proper noun ends in an "s" with a hard "z" sound, we don't add any ending to form the plural: "The Chambers are coming to dinner" (not the Chamberses); "The Hodges used to live here" (not the Hodgeses). There are exceptions even to this: we say "The Joneses are coming over," and we'd probably write "The Stevenses are coming, too." A modest proposal: women whose last names end in "s" (pronounced "z") should marry and take the names of men whose last names do not end with that sound, and eventually this problem will disappear.

 

So according to this source, the correct form would be 'the Woodses'.  Others may disagree, and to be honest, because this is such a confusing point, I have seen it written as the Woods', and the Woods's, which the above reference says is definitely a mistake, but it is always pronounced 'the WOODZEZ'.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Shawn

link comment edited Nov 28 '12 at 13:45 Shawn Mooney Expert

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