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

Having so many Johns around is confusing.


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.

  • 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
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    @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

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

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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.

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