Posted December 23, 2013 04:59 pm

'Keeping up with the Joneses' and the rules of pluralization

Now and then a well-meaning grammarian or stylist will contact me with a critique; sometimes I'm wrong, sometimes I'm right, and sometimes it's just a matter of potato and po-tah-to. 

The English language is a tricky one, with Latin and Germanic roots, with exceptions to every rule and, like many languages, it is constantly changing to keep up with common usage. 

Today I had a message regarding anniversary announcements and the pluralization of names ending in 's.'

The Nicollses will have to be my example today. Happy 50th anniversary to you. You must have avoided the topic of grammar and style or I'm sure you wouldn't have lasted so long!

According to the AP Style Guide, by which the Juneau Empire and many other newspapers abide, for "proper names ... ending in 'es,' 's' or 'z' add 'es'" to pluralize. Examples given by the AP Style Book are 'Charleses, Joneses, Gonzalezes.'

I must say it doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely was we'd all like, but the consequence of not adding the 'es' is having people think the persevering couple's last name is Nicoll, rather than Nicolls, and though I sometimes break the rules, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. 

Is this discussion of grammar and style choices something you find enjoyable or educational? Should I keep it up? Do you have any questions about the style and grammar choices in the Empire?



  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback