Don’t Make This Common Mistake on Your Holiday Cards

Katie Sweeney

Being a writer, I often cringe when I receive a text message with incorrect grammar. I’m not alone—author Kate Brannen has shared her biggest grammar pet peeve on Slate, and it has to do with holiday cards. Specifically the pluralization of last names: “I find a stack of Christmas cards and begin to flip through them—pausing to marvel at how big so-and-so’s kids have gotten. And then I spot it: an apostrophe in a last name that isn’t supposed to be possessive,” writes Brannen. “The apostrophes defile Christmas card after Christmas card, last name after last name with their presence.”

Many people make the mistake of adding an apostrophe to their last name when they are trying to make it plural. However, adding an apostrophe to a name makes the name possessive, not plural. Thus, an apostrophe should only be added to a last name when you are illustrating the possession of something. “The Strebes’ Christmas tree is so beautiful.”

To make most last names plural, all you have to do is add an “s.” “We wish you a Merry Christmas! Love, the Sparks.” For last names that end in s, x, z, ch, or sh, you add an “es” to make the name plural. “Warmest holiday wishes from our family to yours! xoxo, the Walshes.” Or "Happy Hannukah! Love from the Fishes." Make sense? Brannen and I hope so!

Haven’t found pretty Christmas cards yet? Here are some cute plaid ones.

What are your grammar pet peeves?

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