What is the proper use of the apostrophe in this phrase:

The party is at the Johnsons's

Assuming, the regular form of the last name is "Johnson" and there are at least two people in the Johnson family.

I assume it should be possessive because it is implied that it is referring to their house.

What would the correct form be for a last name ending in an S in its singular form?

  • The main point of confusion for me was handling the "implicit house" in addition to the (better documented) rules dealing with plural surnames. – Ed Thomas Jul 17 '13 at 8:52
  • 2
    The implicit house is irrelevant. Since you're dealing with the genetive the rule is exactly the same. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 17 '13 at 8:56
  • @MattЭллен No, the implicit house is critical. If you don't realise that there's an implicit house, then it a simple plural requiring no apostrophe at all. – TrevorD Jul 17 '13 at 12:37
  • @TrevorD ok, I'll rephrase — that it's a house is irellevant. Of course there's is an implicit object, in fact the OP states that this is their assumption. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 17 '13 at 13:07
  • @MattЭллен Sorry, my comment was because when I first read the question I didn't appreciate that there was an implicit anything (hence the second part of my comment), and I overlooked the OP's comment. Will delete both comments shortly. – TrevorD Jul 17 '13 at 13:13

At the Johnsons'

would be my suggestion. There is an implicit "house" at the end

I have also seen

At the Joneses'

for a house belonging to the Jones family

Have a look at these many pages https://english.stackexchange.com/search?q=possessive+s+ending+on+s


When we are talking about the family we normally say: The Browns even if the surname, Brown, is singular. When expressing possession the apostrophe comes after the plural form, e.g.

The Browns' dog.

This does not change even if the surname, singular, ends with an "s".

The Thomas' dog

The dog belongs to the whole family.

The same rule applies when talking about the family home.

At the Browns'

At the Thomas'

(Although I would say: At the Thomases (/ˈtɒməsɪz/)

If however we are talking about only a single member of the family then the apostrophe goes immediately between the name and the genitive "s".

Mr Brown's job


Mr Thomas's job

  • 1
    I would prefer the Thomases' dog to the Thomas'. – Bradd Szonye Jul 17 '13 at 10:27
  • I agree that it sounds better in speech but in the written form it might lead someone to think the surname is Thomases, although I don't think such a surname exists. – Mari-Lou A Jul 17 '13 at 10:42
  • If the surname were Thomases, then the plural possessive would be Thomaseses', akin to Joneses'. Of course, that would be awful. – Bradd Szonye Jul 17 '13 at 10:46
  • @BraddSzonye Very awful, agreed! However, I believe in its written form, The Thomas' dog, the apostrophe after the "s" is clearly understood by the vast majority. All to his own personal preference and style, I guess. – Mari-Lou A Jul 17 '13 at 10:53
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    Agreed, I wouldn't say that Thomas' is incorrect – although a possessive plural should normally end in a voiced S sound, which you don't have unless you form the plural as Thomases first. – Bradd Szonye Jul 17 '13 at 10:56

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