Tips on Spelling

How to Make Most Nouns Plural

Copyright © 2001–2017 Lynette M. Smith

Just add s or es, as in dilemmas or businesses—no apostrophe. Only rarely is an apostrophe used, generally to show the plurals of individual letters that might otherwise be confused with other words.

Wrong: Have you any As or Is among your Scrabble tiles? [confusing, because As and Is are real words]

Right: Have you any A's or I's among your Scrabble tiles?

How to Make First or Last Names Plural or Possessive, and When to Use an Apostrophe

Copyright © 2000–2017 Lynette M. Smith

Some things that look wrong often are actually correct, especially with names. Here are examples of one style of proper spelling and punctuation:

Singular: Smith, Jones, Kennedy

Plural: Smiths, Joneses [the way you'd pronounce it], Kennedys

Singular possessive: Mr. Smith's house, Ms. Jones's house

Plural possessive: The Smiths' house, the Joneses' house [as you would pronounce it]

With names, an apostrophe is used only to show possession, never to show plurals. Here's a good way to remember how to spell possessive names:

First, decide if the name is singular or plural and spell it correctly.

Next, add an apostrophe to the end of the word you've just spelled.

Finally, add another s only if you would ordinarily pronounce that extra s when speaking the word. (Pronouncing that final s is a matter of style; choose the style that's most natural sounding to you, and be consistent in applying it.)