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My last name has two occurrences of the letter "s" in it, so in speech I tell people all the time that it's spelled "with two esses". However I don't know how to express such a thing in writing. I can see half decent reasons for any of "s's", "S's", "ses", "Ses", "ss", "Ss", or "esses" . Which is/are correct?

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Isn't signing your name sufficient to clue in your reader to the correct spelling of your name? –  Kristina Lopez May 31 '13 at 17:06
@KristinaLopez Considering that my email address starts with jon@, my name is in the From header of all mails I send, and I often end with a salutation including my name, and yet I still get replies starting "Dear John", I'd say no, it's not enough. –  Jon Hanna May 31 '13 at 19:39
@JonHanna, talk to the hand Jon. More people spell my name starting with "Ch" that I think my name is "Kristina with a K". :-) –  Kristina Lopez May 31 '13 at 19:57
@KristinaLopez I just reply with the same spelling applied to their name. E.g. "Dear Krihstihna". –  Jon Hanna May 31 '13 at 20:52

1 Answer 1

You can use any of the following:

with two esses

with two Ss

with two S's

with two s's

Ability to format permitting, and font suitably different between italic and roman, you could also italicise the first S to signify mention over use.

with two S s

(Note extra space above due to how the formatting here works, not intended).

All are unclear in a few different ways, and apostrophes in plurals are becoming less and less common - pluralising a letter like this is probably the one case that is surviving the best as the cases it was once acceptable die out (see this for more on that)., but still not as clearly correct as it once was.

I would both avoid the problem of pluralisation and add extra precision with:

With a double-S.

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Thanks, this is helpful. I was naively hoping there would be a magical answer that suffers from none of the problems, but I guess I just need to pick the one that I dislike the least. –  Glacials May 31 '13 at 15:57
Well, double-S does avoid it and is applicable to your case, if not to all others. At least in text you won't have the mishearing problem that leads to being called Ben Carlffon. –  Jon Hanna May 31 '13 at 16:12
I might be dealing with the one case where double-S isn't applicable actually, but I'll remember it for future endeavors. –  Glacials May 31 '13 at 16:20

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