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Okay, so jeans and pants are referred to as plural. When we refer to a brand of jeans, we pluralize the brand by saying and writing things like:

"I got Girbauds for my birthday." (a pair of Girbaud jeans)

"She's going to wear my Lees tonight." (a pair of Lee jeans)

"I'll wear Armani Exchanges." (a pair of Armani Exchange jeans)

However, when it comes to Levi's jeans, the name is possessive. In my head, it seems like we should say:

"John's wearing Levi'ses." (a pair of Levi's jeans)

That's not what we say, tough. We say it with a single S. But how do we write it so that it conforms to the rule of pluralizing?

One thought I had was "Levis'," but that's not the name. The name contains an apostrophe and that apostrophe goes before the S (i.e., Levi's jeans).

Anyway, I'm writing something and I really need to figure out how to write "Levi's" in a context like shown in the three examples above. I don't want to stilt the language by rewording it. I want what I write to reflect what was actually said.

Any help you might give would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, this is different than a question I saw on here about McDonald's because when we pluralize McDonald's, we actually say the second S (i.e., McDonald'ses).

  • I'm sure I've seen it written as Levis, even though it's really a possessive. – Kate Bunting Mar 30 '19 at 20:08
  • Think of the brand as the owner. Sit down for a Nescafé’s and mull it over. – Global Charm Mar 30 '19 at 20:11
  • Related. – tchrist Mar 30 '19 at 20:48
  • Thanks @tchrist. I read through all that. That does touch on using brand names for a thing itself, but it neither asks nor answers my question, meaning it's not a duplicate. I'm not sure if that's what you were driving at, but I just wanted to clarify that. – Benjamin Harman Mar 30 '19 at 20:52
  • I only said it was related, not that it was a duplicate. – tchrist Mar 30 '19 at 21:06
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The term Levi’s on its own admits no inflections. You cannot make it singular, and it’s already plural. You also cannot make it (more) possessive. This is simply how it works.

There are several reasons for this. Brand names like Macdonald’s are fundamentally apocopations for longer terms like MacDonald’s® restaurants or Levi’s® brand jeans from which we’ve retained only the first element in the noun phrase. This can lead to odd situations.

In the first case the same word admits both singular and plural uses: people commonly say this McDonald’s for the singular side-by-side with these McDonald’s for the plural. If you add back the missing restaurant or restaurants respectively, you can see why this makes sense.

But in the second case it’s already a plurale tantum perhaps because jeans itself already is, and so requires periphrasis to represent a single item: this pair of Levi’s is talking about just one garment.

That’s because being a plurale tantum already, saying these Levi’s equally represents both this pair of them and many. It is impossible to say of a free-standing phrase without external context or further qualification just how many garments are meant by saying these Levi’s. It already means both possibilities, so more must be added by periphrasis or context, not by inflection, to specify what was meant.

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  • Do people in the US say "I'm wearing Gucci/Prada" etc or "....Guccis/Pradas" if they're referring to footwear? – Mari-Lou A Mar 31 '19 at 7:55
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    @Mari-LouA -- People can say "I'm wearing Gucci" to say that they're wearing it somewhere on their person, including on their feet. If they want to say that their shoes are "Gucci," like if someone were to ask what kind of shoes they're wearing, they'd say, "They're Guccis," or, "I'm wearing Guccis." – Benjamin Harman Mar 31 '19 at 18:17
  • By the way, @tchrist, you talk about McDonald's in your answer, but my question specifically addressed that, making me wonder if you didn't actually read my whole question, for it is commonplace to say "McDonald'ses" when referring to more than one McDonald's restaurant (e.g., We have three McDonald'ses in town.), which is what makes writing "McDonald'ses" possible. This, however, is not the convention with "Levi's," to pronounce an "es" afterwards to pluralize it, hence the question. – Benjamin Harman Mar 31 '19 at 18:22
  • @BenjaminHarman Far be it from me to doubt your tale of having heard “those MacDonald’s” said with extra ‑iziz syllables! Yet those remain ungrammatical to my ear. I again can't tell if your question is about language or writing. I've addressed only grammar not style, specifically the relevant points of grammar in the permissible inflectional morphology of pluralia tantum like yours. Bear in mind that English has always had “rustic” oral examples of forms like those farmerses farms or these fisheses finses, but those sound unschooled when heard said and look unlettered when seen written. – tchrist Mar 31 '19 at 19:52

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