3

How can I refer collectively to a group of people with the same name, for example:

Having so many Johns around is confusing.

or

Having so many John's around is confusing.

Which one is the correct usage? Or should I only refer to them as "people named John"?

This could be somewhat compounded when surnames are used, if the pluralized version is also common.

5
  • Simple rule of thumb: if you want a plural, don't use an apostrophe. Apostrophe-s is for possessives. – JPmiaou Mar 3 '11 at 20:29
  • 2
    @JPmiaou: A thousand of p's and q's would beg to differ. – Martin Tapankov Mar 3 '11 at 20:40
  • rules of thumb have generally have exceptions. – JPmiaou Mar 4 '11 at 5:06
  • Dratted thing won't let me edit my comment; the first 'have' is of course extraneous. – JPmiaou Mar 4 '11 at 5:27
  • And "its" is possessive while "it's" is not possessive but instead is the contraction of "it is". – medley56 Apr 13 at 21:47
5

Johns is fine (if a bit unfortunate in its implications for that particular name). John's means "belonging to John".

2
  • So what about pluralization that changes the spelling? e.g. "I know way to many Shelbies" or "Emilies are always nice people" or "I like all Timothies". – medley56 Apr 13 at 21:49
  • @medley56: Bad. Shelbys, Emilys, and Timothys. – chaos Apr 29 at 14:34
3

As evidenced by the common phrase "keeping up with the Joneses", simply pluralizing, even if the name is already theoretically in a plural form, is the way to go.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.