Google Analytics

Site Meter

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Annual Card Project

I was setting up for our Holiday Card project of the year, and had finally decided on a card (see the rejected few here). We always sign the card with our names, and then the family name at the end. The problem I ran into is how do I actually sign the card and ensure it is gramatically correct? I checked online and there were many different examples that all conflicted with each other. So I did some research and found a great write up from the Grammar Guide Blog.

How do you sign your family name on a Christmas card, sympathy card, birthday card, etc.? Should it simply be "The Browns" or "The Brown's"? Should it be "The Stocks" or "The Stocks'"? And what about signs or plaques you might want to place in your yard or on your house to identify your family name? Would this work the same way as signing a card?

This problem is actually pretty simple to overcome if you'll think it through. First, try to remember some of the things we've already discussed in this blog, and one of them is the apostrophe. Since apostrophes are a part of today's topic, perhaps a quick review of them would be helpful. The APOSTROPHE can be used two ways:

(1) to show the omission of a letter or letters: cannot-can't, will not- won't, does not-doesn't, and many, many more.

Now, you can certainly see that using an apostrophe in "The Brown's" would make no sense in this context (on a card or sign). No words have been left out, and that's a clear indication that an apostrophe should not be used.

Another way APOSTROPHES are used is (2) to show possession:

the trunk's size, Justin's camera, Shannon's art, Grace's dignity, and lots of others.

Here, by placing the apostrophe after the name and then before the "item" or "thing" being "possessed", you are indicating that this "item" or "thing" belongs to the person or thing. It is THIS part of the apostrophe rule that we'll need today.

Okay and now to today's topic. If you have a sign or plaque outside of your home that you want to use to identify your family, the correct thing to do is to have it printed the following way IF THE NAME DOES NOT SHOW POSSESSION (or a noun does not follow the family name on the sign ):

If your family name DOES NOT end in an S, simply add an S: The Smiths, The Bowers, The Wards, The Grays, The Crutchfields...(well, you get the idea). This is all you need. After all, you're probably indicating that more than one Smith lives in the home, so the name must be made plural by adding an S to the end. NO APOSTROPHES NEEDED! (If only one person lives in the home, however, the S would be a matter of personal choice as to whether the name should be singular or plural. For example, if a widow or widower lived alone in a home once occupied by his/her spouse and children, he or she might still prefer to maintain that a family of three, four, etc. once lived there. Perfectly okay!)

Now, if there is another noun AFTER the name on the sign, then using the S and THEN the apostrophe is correct. For example:

Welcome to the Turners' Home, ...the Powells' Cottage,...the Scotts' Home..., etc. Remember that apostrophes in this use show possession--and that's exactly what you're saying. The Turners "possess" this home, etc.

Sometimes folks are confused about names that end in S. Again, if you're planning to have a sign or plaque outside your home and your name ends in S, just go right ahead and spell your name as you normally do. Then place an "es" after the s. The sign would simply say

The Stockses, The Hookses, The Markses, The Dickenses...and so on. Looks a little strange, but that's the rule. If you don't like this, you could just put Stocks, Hooks, Marks, and Dickens and leave off "The". Your choice.

If, however, you will be using the possessive form--such as placing a noun after the name ending with an S on a sign, then you'll have to do it differently. In this case, you would need to determine if the name has one or more syllables. If the name has only one syllable, then you would place an apostrophe and an S after the name. The name would look like this:

Welcome to the Stocks's Cottage..the Hooks's Home...the Marks's...etc.

If the name ending in S has two or more syllables, then you still place an apostrophe after the name, but omit the S. For example:

Welcome to the Dickenses' Home...the Lewises' Home...the Hankinses' Home...etc.

And, finally, what about signing those cards? It's close to the info. above. Just sign your name and make it plural by adding an S (if it doesn't already have an S on the end), such as The Princes, The Whites, the Halls, the Highs, etc. NO APOSTROPHES NEEDED!

If your name does end in an S, just place "es" on the end of the name. The number of syllables don't matter in this instance. For example, The Joneses, The Soleses, The Morrisses, etc. If you think your name sounds too strange written this way and, it's true--some sure do, just opt out to signing the card "The Walter Edmonds Family". Nothing's wrong with this way!

I am good to go now!

Disqus for Cold Kiwi