If I were to use the sentence "There are lots of John Smiths" in the world, would that be the correct use for saying that there are a lot of people named John Smith in the world?

I don't think there should be an apostrophe as that would imply ownership of something.

If my first example is correct, then what would you do if the name referenced already ended with an 's'?

  • possible duplicate of Family Name Pluralization Aug 24, 2011 at 17:11
  • english.stackexchange.com/questions/7469 and this question are not dups of each other. That earlier question concerned the plural of a surname which is a homonym of a noun whose plural is irregular (the Foots/*the Feet) whereas this question concerns the plural of a surname which ends in a sibilant sound.
    – Rosie F
    Jan 21, 2020 at 17:00
  • No; this question does not ask about possessive forms. Oct 26, 2023 at 15:55

4 Answers 4


In order to pluralize a name, this guide says:

There are really just two rules to remember, whether you’re pluralizing a given (first) name or a surname (last name):

  1. If the name ends in s, sh, ch, x or z, add es.
  2. In every other case, add s.

Similarly, there are two fundamental no-no’s:

Never change a y to ies when pluralizing a name; and Never, ever use apostrophes!



  • The Flaherty’s live here.
  • The Flaherties live here.


  • The Flahertys live here.
  • Sandra’s two favorite boyfriends are Charleses.
  • There are seven Joneses in Stuart’s little black book—three of them Jennifers.
  • The Hopkinses are coming over for dinner tonight.

So your instinct is correct -- do not use an apostrophe as that indicates possession. Your first example would be:

There are a lot of John Smiths in the world.

  • 1
    Never use apostrophes? Sometimes I write Mind your p's and q's. Is that wrong?
    – GEdgar
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:26
  • Beautifully answered.
    – Akin
    Aug 24, 2011 at 15:41
  • 2
    But I read on grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm the following: "When a proper noun ends in an "s" with a hard "z" sound, we don't add any ending to form the plural: "The Chambers are coming to dinner" (not the Chamberses); "The Hodges used to live here" (not the Hodgeses). There are exceptions even to this: we say "The Joneses are coming over," and we'd probably write "The Stevenses are coming, too." So is it: "the Williams" or "the Williamses"?
    – Peter
    Mar 21, 2014 at 9:04
  • 1
    Also, on:ehow.com/how_7328435_pluralize-surname-end.html "Add no ending to surnames ending in the "z" sound. These names need no "s" at the end or apostrophes. "The Lodges are coming over" (not the Lodgeses). "The Stevens are at the game" (not the Stevenses)."
    – Peter
    Mar 21, 2014 at 9:09
  • 1
    I often run across "the Williams" not "the Williamses" when journalists refer to Venus and Serena.
    – Peter
    Mar 21, 2014 at 9:17

You are correct. That is how to make a name plural.

If you want to make a name ending in s plural then you can add es

There are lots of Barry Joneses in Wales

or you can just leave it off

Look at all the John Griffiths in the phone book

It depends on how easy it is to pronounce.

  • This is certainly the usage, but in theory your second example could mean 'more than one John Griffith' as well as 'more than one John Griffiths'. Aug 24, 2011 at 15:57
  • @TimLymington: I think that ambiguity would be a small price to pay if it saves me having to pronounce Griffithses! :) Aug 24, 2011 at 18:04

Yes, your example is correct, if a bit informal and potentially awkward-sounding.

When pluralizing names that end with an "s", you can generally put "es" on the end:

There are many Smiths in the world.
There are many Joneses in the world.


A correct sentence.. There are lots of Peters in this town.." 's" you probably meant the name of John Smith's you mean the name What John own..Although it is unnecessary grammatically you may say this and it will be true for the meaning when you place 'the name of'before it as it is above. but your second sentence makes it clear...It will be better if you only emphasize the name..

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