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Pluralizing Proper Nouns That End With "S" Options
Lire A Haute Voix
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:32:37 PM

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I'm a little abashed that I don't have this tucked away in my cache of grammar facts already, but I need to know this since I'm revising my novel.

Here is my specific situation. I have a group of characters whose last name is "Lyons". When I want to say "More than one of the Lyons went to brunch", I should write, "The Lyons' went to brunch"... correct?

Any other rules that go along with pluralizing proper nouns that end in "s" will be of great help to me. Thanks in advance!

“But I have no idea how to fight.” “You stab people. They die. You’ll pick up on it quick, kid."
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:49:08 PM

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Best answer with general guidelines and a discussion of the differences between AP & Chicago on such plurals I could find is about halfway down this page. But the four or five places I looked all agreed that your family, when pluralized, should be Lyonses. I have thought about this sort of thing mostly in regards to the possessive form of my son James's name, where my addition of the post-apostrophe s is not popular, but not too strongly condemned either (and, in fact, Chicago endorses this approach).

}- Luftmarque لوفتمارك -{ Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde.—Voltaire
Lire A Haute Voix
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:57:46 PM

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Coincidentially, my boyfriend's name is James, and I have always pluralized his name as James'. :)
Thank you very much. I'll certainly look into that link. However, if anyone has a more definitive answer, please do post. Thanks again Luftmargue!

“But I have no idea how to fight.” “You stab people. They die. You’ll pick up on it quick, kid."
Pamster
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:03:05 PM
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Try the Grammarbook.com for the correct advice. If you sign up for the website you can see the contests for writers such as yourself. Maybe win some money for your efforts and get you through to publishing a best-seller.
Lire A Haute Voix
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:11:28 PM

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Thank you Pamster, I will certainly check it out! :)

“But I have no idea how to fight.” “You stab people. They die. You’ll pick up on it quick, kid."
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:15:22 PM

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Lire A Haute Voix wrote:
Coincidentially, my boyfriend's name is James, and I have always pluralized his name as James'. :)
Thank you very much. I'll certainly look into that link. However, if anyone has a more definitive answer, please do post. Thanks again Luftmargue!

Sorry I made a bit of a misleading post—as far as your specific question about the Lyonses goes, there is universal agreement so I would consider that to be definitive... and, now that we're talking about multiple Jameses, there is also agreement about the possessive of that plural: Jameses' This all makes my head hurt, however.

}- Luftmarque لوفتمارك -{ Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde.—Voltaire
grammargeek
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:42:27 PM

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Lire A Haute Voix wrote:

Here is my specific situation. I have a group of characters whose last name is "Lyons". When I want to say "More than one of the Lyons went to brunch", I should write, "The Lyons' went to brunch"... correct?



The apostrophe added to the word "Lyons" would not be used in any way to indicate that you are referring to more than one of them. As Luftmarque has already stated, the plural of "Lyons" would be "Lyonses."

However, if you want to indicate that something belongs to one member of the Lyons family, then you have the choice of Lyons' or Lyons's. I am more of a fan of using the apostrophe without the additional "s" myself. If you want to indicate possession by the entire family of Lyonses, then you'd write Lyonses'. It seems that the other option of adding the "s" after the apostrophe would apply in this case, too. But I don't know--Lyonses's looks strange to me.
Todd C. Williams
Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 9:15:22 AM

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I may not be a good official source, but with the last name of Williams it has plagued me forever. Through the years of schooling, the 60's and 70's, they were still sticklers on spelling.

My teachers' answer would be: plural - Williamses, possessive - Williams', plural possessive - Williams'.

For plural possessive, there is a rule that "if the syllable is pronounced you use 's (class's) and if the syllable is not pronounced then drop the s (Dinkens')" (Holt Guide to English, Prof. William Irmscher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972) Class's, is pronounced "classes" and Dickins' does not have the "es" syllable on the end. The problem with this is whether you pronounce the "es" at the send of the plural possessive. At the U of Washington, my argument with my professor, William Irmscher (hence the reason I have the book), was that in speech you would say "we are going to the Dickenses' farm" (a family farm held for years) for possessive plural, not Dickens' (implying a single family). He told me I have improper speech. I told him his method was unclear, he agreed with me but I was still wrong. I stick with the Williams', even though unclear since it works in more cases... try saying "The Chamberses' horse." You would say, "Chambers' horse." So for me, it is back to being consistent. I hope this helps

Cheers,
Todd
genome
Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 9:28:03 AM

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The saying "Keeping up with the Joneses" should give you an answer.
risadr
Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:18:47 AM

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grammargeek wrote:
Lire A Haute Voix wrote:

Here is my specific situation. I have a group of characters whose last name is "Lyons". When I want to say "More than one of the Lyons went to brunch", I should write, "The Lyons' went to brunch"... correct?



The apostrophe added to the word "Lyons" would not be used in any way to indicate that you are referring to more than one of them. As Luftmarque has already stated, the plural of "Lyons" would be "Lyonses."

However, if you want to indicate that something belongs to one member of the Lyons family, then you have the choice of Lyons' or Lyons's. I am more of a fan of using the apostrophe without the additional "s" myself. If you want to indicate possession by the entire family of Lyonses, then you'd write Lyonses'. It seems that the other option of adding the "s" after the apostrophe would apply in this case, too. But I don't know--Lyonses's looks strange to me.


My brain wants to pronounce this "ly-on-ses-ses." That's a bit of a mouth full.

And, for what it's worth, my daughter's name ends with S and I never use the additional S after the apostrophe when indicating that something belongs to her.

It's like a book elegantly bound, but in a language that you can't read just yet. "I Will Possess Your Heart," Death Cab for Cutie
johnw
Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:57:08 AM
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English is BS. Adding an es to Lyons is acceptable, a way SPanish pluralizes some words in an effort maintain it's much more reasonable rules.

Truely you can make up your own rules--re: English-- and they'd be just as good as the ones various pedants (Samuel Johnson, e.g) have randomly applied to their precious language.

When you are making a novel, a product that you make, do not write to please the English language, a pidgin product of cultural confluences, and don't write even to please readers. The best way to write in this case is to specify which Lyons is or are doing whatever. So, the >Lyons family, all eight of them<, or, >Jan and Jon Lyons went to brunch<. Lyonses is likely affected--what are you Henry James? In fiction there is no substitute for concrete. Fiction depends on the reader's ability to VISUALIZE what the writing conjures, and to do this write in concrete images. Please Art, not English grammar.
Eihab Fathy
Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 1:08:52 PM

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Luftmarque wrote:
Best answer with general guidelines and a discussion of the differences between AP & Chicago on such plurals I could find is about halfway down this page. But the four or five places I looked all agreed that your family, when pluralized, should be Lyonses. I have thought about this sort of thing mostly in regards to the possessive form of my son James's name, where my addition of the post-apostrophe s is not popular, but not too strongly condemned either (and, in fact, Chicago endorses this approach).


Thanks for this website, it's very useful for me.
Gwen
Posted: Saturday, June 13, 2009 10:13:33 AM

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My last name is Haynes. I've never added an "-es" to my name when talking about my entire family, but when talking about my possessions, I just add "-'s" to my name.

“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly: “but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ~ Lewis Carroll
arthbard
Posted: Saturday, June 13, 2009 9:23:13 PM

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As others have said, the standard way to pluralize words ending in S, including names, is to add an -es.

Indicating possession is more open to debate. You can just add an apostrophe after the final S (dogs', cars', shoes', etc.). According to my fifth grade teacher, this is only proper if the word is plural. For non-plural words ending in S (say, a name like James), she told us the correct way was to add an apostrophe and an S (i.e. James's).

I tend to prefer my teacher's method, but I seem to be in the minority. Most people will leave off the S whether the word is plural or not. I'm told either method acceptable, though, and it's largely a question of style.
Vayres
Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 8:23:40 PM
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You can just say "The Lyons went to brunch..."

That's what I would do.
-An apostrophe doesn't make sense; that's for plural possessive.
-And 'Lyonses' while formally correct is unnecessary and so can be abbreviated. People will know what you mean. Keep it simple and bend the grammar rules a little in this situation, I say.


aqualily6
Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009 8:58:55 PM
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I will be marrying into a family with the last name Lyons. We wanted to get a Christmas picture that said our name. I thought it should say The Lyons' on it. But we really wanted to make sure that was right. It seems like there are many acceptable ways of saying it, but does The Lyons' sound right? Does it look good? Please let me know. Thanks.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009 11:04:54 PM

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Why don't you all start learning some Finnish? It's so much easier ;-)

Jätkä
Jätkän
Jätkien
Jätkienkään
Jätkällekään
Jätkällekö
Jätkää
Jätkällä
Jätkältä
Jätkänkin
Jätkille
Jätkäin
Jätkäksi
Jätkään
Jätkäänkään
Jätkättä
...
...
about 156 different ways to say it in different meanings...
Whistle


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Maura
Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2009 3:41:53 PM

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aqualily6 wrote:
I will be marrying into a family with the last name Lyons. We wanted to get a Christmas picture that said our name. I thought it should say The Lyons' on it. But we really wanted to make sure that was right. It seems like there are many acceptable ways of saying it, but does The Lyons' sound right? Does it look good? Please let me know. Thanks.



Adding the apostrophe would indicate the possessive, and I don't think you want to do that when giving the family's name to title the photo.
Hence, I think The Lyons is the correct form.

Best Wishes on your forthcoming marrige! Angel
bugdoctor
Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2009 3:50:46 PM

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Maura wrote:
aqualily6 wrote:
I will be marrying into a family with the last name Lyons. We wanted to get a Christmas picture that said our name. I thought it should say The Lyons' on it. But we really wanted to make sure that was right. It seems like there are many acceptable ways of saying it, but does The Lyons' sound right? Does it look good? Please let me know. Thanks.



Adding the apostrophe would indicate the possessive, and I don't think you want to do that when giving the family's name to title the photo.
Hence, I think The Lyons is the correct form.

Best Wishes on your forthcoming marrige! Angel


I don't think the apostrophe has anything to do with MAKING a word plural. It us used to denote a contraction OR to show possession.

"Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin
kingfisher
Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 5:43:13 PM
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I agree with the others that the apostophe makes no sense. This is the way I think it should be done:

Plural=Lyonses
Singular Possessive=Lyons's
Plural Possessive=Lyonses'

Note that when a name ends in the letter s, the singular possessive is formed by adding an apostophe AND another s, with very few exceptions (Jesus, Moses, Socrates, and a few others). So, if Mr. Williams has a dog, the dog is referred to as "Mr. Williams's dog," and not "Mr. Williams' dog" (see the Chicago Manual of Style). Plural possessives do not add an additional s.
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