Plurals of Names Ending in “Y”

Summary

Form the plural of a name ending in y by adding s without an apostrophe. Don’t replace the y with ies. Simply add s after the y: “the Murphys,” not “Murphies.”

Examples
  • We have two Henrys and four Marys in the family.
  • The Murphys no longer live here.

To form the possessive of a plural name, place an apostrophe after—not before—the s that makes the plural.

Example
  • We rented the Kennedys’ house for the summer.

The general rule

Form the plural of a name or proper noun by adding s or es.

Examples
  • We have seven Toms, nine Jills, and two Chrissys in the family.
  • Have the Smiths been informed?
  • The Joneses are here for dinner.
  • Two Ginnys work in this office. Do you mean Ginny Johnson or Ginny Jameson?
  • Do the Dunphys still live next door to the Patels?

Plurals of names ending in y can be confusing. This is because regular plurals of common nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant sound are formed by changing the ending to ies: pony/ponies, story/stories, duty/duties. But with proper nouns, you simply add s, as discussed in this article.

Plurals of names ending in y

To form the plural of a name ending in y, simply add s after the y, without an apostrophe. This rule applies to both given and last names. It also applies regardless of whether the y at the end of the name is preceded by a vowel or a consonant.

Examples
  • They have four Jerrys, three Marys, and two Roys in the family.
    not “Jerries” or “Maries”
  • We met the Kennedys on Presidents Day.
    not “the Kennedies”
  • They are a group of Bettys that raises money for charity.
  • We have two Jimmys and three Anthonys in class this year.
  • The Omonys are old friends of ours.
  • The Barrys have always lived next door to the Cuthberts.

Note that plurals of proper and common nouns ending in y are formed differently. When a common noun ends in y preceded by a consonant, the y is replaced by ies (city/cities). In contrast, proper names don’t lose the y ending. The rule is to simply add s after the y, regardless of whether the y in a name is preceded by a vowel or a consonant.

Examples
  • We lived between the Murrays and the Murphys, two families that had a feud dating back to the thirties.
    “families” and “thirties” but “the Murphys” (not “the Murphies”)
  • In 1943, they changed how they spelled their name from “Barry” to “Barrie” and became “the Barries.” Before that, they were “the Barrys.”
  • The Sweeneys, Hanleys, Donnellys, Dunphys, Stanleys, Conroys, and McCarthys have all moved to the city.
Tip

Like plurals of names ending in y, those of names ending in i are formed by adding s, not es.

Example
  • The Kellys and the Rossis are old family friends.

Use of apostrophe

Don’t use an apostrophe to form the plural of a name, even one ending in y.

Examples
  • There are two Amys in this office. Which one wrote to you?
  • I heard that the Hannatys now live in Chicago.
  • Are there two Harrys on the team or two Larrys? I can never keep track.
  • We have invited the Saleebys and McCoys to dinner.

Using an apostrophe to form the plural of a name is considered poor style and generally avoided.

Example
  • Poor: The Murphy’s still own the bookstore beside the library.
    Better: The Murphys still own the bookstore beside the library.
Tip

In general, avoid using an apostrophe to form a plural, unless necessary to avoid confusion.

Example
  • There are two a's in catacomb.
    Without the apostrophe, it would read as “two as in catacomb,” which could be confusing.

Possessives of plural names

To form the possessive of a plural name, place an apostrophe after—not before—the s that forms the plural. For a name ending in y, add s to form the plural and refer to an entire family. Then add an apostrophe after this s to form the possessive.

Examples
  • Is that the Murphys’ dog?
    not “the Murphy’s dog”
  • I see the Baileys’ car parked in their driveway.
  • The Mayberrys’ monkey is in our mulberries.

This is how you form possessives of all plural names, not just those ending in y: the Smiths’ dog, the Millers’ cat, the Garcias’ car.

Plurals of other proper nouns ending in y

To form the plural of other proper nouns ending in y, such as names of regions, countries, brands, or businesses, simply add s as usual. Again, don’t change the y to ies; just add s. No apostrophe is necessary, as seen in these examples from published content.

Examples
  • It was the only goal and the only time the two Germanys ever played each other.
    — “The East German Team That Refused to Die,” BBC News (Dec. 28, 2015)
  • If China is willing to cut the McKinseys of the world loose, it suggests that China’s leadership does not believe that these interest groups are useful anymore in altering U.S. foreign policy.
    — “Why China Booting McKinsey Makes Me Nervous,” Washington Post (May 29, 2014)
  • Two men were arrested Thursday in connection with the alleged theft of 15 Toyota Camrys last week in the Santa Clarita Valley.
    — “2 Men Accused of Stealing 15 Camrys,” Los Angeles Times (May 18, 2022)
  • Amazon may take over old JCPenneys and Sears to try and speed up deliveries.
    — Headline, CNN Business (Aug. 10, 2020)

Examples from published content

Here are some examples from writing that show how the plural of a name ending in y is formed by simply adding s (without an apostrophe).

Examples
  • She discovered the Sweeneys were from Donegal and the Dalys from Tipperary.
    — “Montserrat Celebrates Its Irish Roots,” BBC News (Mar. 22, 2017)
  • There were a number of Amys on board the liner, but some have suggested the bracelet may even have been a gift for someone not on the ship.
    — “Titanic Relics Up for Auction,” BBC News (Jan. 6, 2012)
  • Having a signature color is not the only way the Murphys stand out.
    — “A Dutch Home with Some Serious Whimsy,” New York Times (Feb. 17. 2010)
  • The Kennedys remain the stuff of legend, however.
    — “Five Myths about the Kennedys,” Washington Post (Mar. 5, 2021)
  • The Barrys must feel cut up.
    Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)

Plurals of names ending in other letters

Plurals of other names, including those ending in vowels (like e and i) are also formed by adding s. However, plurals of names ending in sibilant sounds (s, x, z, sh, ch) are formed by adding es.

Examples
  • We have three Johns, two Janes, two Anitas, and two Agneses in the family.
  • The Lopezes live next door to the Smiths.
  • The Singhs and the Joneses are on vacation together in Singapore.
  • Neither of the Pauls works here anymore.
  • Both Gladyses have the same surname: Smith.
  • We have two Ceryses on the Welsh side of the family.

Usage guide

Add s to form the plural of a name ending in y, whether a given or a last name (two Harrys in the family, the Kennedys). Don’t change the y to ies to form the plural (the Murphys, not the Murphies). Also don’t use an apostrophe before the s (the Dunphys, not the Dunphy’s). Finally, remember to form the possessive of a plural name by placing an apostrophe after the final s (the Duffys’ dog, not the Duffy’s dog).

Quick Quiz

Which sentence uses the correct plural of the name “Molly”?
Choose from these answers
All done!
Which is correct?
Choose from these answers
All done!
Which is correct?
Choose from these answers
All done!

Did You Know?

Each is generally singular but may be used with plural verbs.
Know more:Is “Each” Singular or Plural? How to Use “Each” Correctly