The Addamseses’s…or Not


If the Addams family hosted a dinner party, would the invitation say:

    A. Held at the Addams residence

    B. Held at the Addamses residence

    C. Held at the Addams’s residence

    D. Held at the Addamses’ residence

    E. Held at the Addamseses’s residence

If you chose “D,” then you’re a rock star.

Let’s break it down.

You are trying to make the name both plural (it is the residence of the entire family) and possessive (the residence is owned by the Addams family).

    A. Addams

They are the Addams family. Their last name is Addams (not Addam), just like any other last name. (Smith, Maxwell, Sugarberry…you get the idea.) Answer “A” is only listing the family name of Addams; it does not convey it as plural or possessive.

    B. Addamses

This one is closer. To show that a name ending in “s” is plural, you add “es.” If you chose “B” then you were on the right track. This is true to show plurality for all names ending in “s.” If your two best friends are both named James, you would say, “I’m hanging out with the Jameses after school today.” However, Addamses does not show the possession we’re looking for in this example.

    C. Addams’s

If you chose “C,” then your head was in the right place. You do want Addams to show possession and you do that by adding an apostrophe. However, because Addams ends in “s” you have to add the “es” first to make it plural. Otherwise, you’re saying that the party will be held at the Addam family residence and who has ever heard of the Addam family? Don’t go to parties at the homes of strangers.

    D. Addamses’

Correct! Step 1. Make it plural: Addamses. Step 2. Make it possessive: Addamses’.

Since Addams already ends in “s,” you must add “es” to make it plural. In order to pluralize a name that ends in “s” (both Addams and Addamses), you add an apostrophe. You do not need another “s” or you will get tongue-tied trying to pronounce the name. (Try it out loud; no one will hear you.) You only add an “s” after the apostrophe to make a singular noun possessive. For example, you’re going to Wednesday Addams’s home. There is only one Wednesday Addams so in this case, the name is singular and possessive so you need the “s” after the apostrophe. Since Addamses is plural, you only need the apostrophe. (Note that the pronunciation in both cases is the same.)

    E. Addamseses’s

Just look at this spelling. This is the spelling of someone who threw in the towel on the whole plural, possessive, ends in “s” thing. This is the equivalent of pluralizing the word “moose” as “meeses.” (By the way, the plural of moose…is moose.) As we learned, the plural of Addams is Addamses, so that was a good start. Because Addamses is plural, the possessive is Addamses’. The extra “s” after the apostrophe is incorrect because the noun is not singular. That is an understandable mistake though. The big problem here is the extra “es” thrown in there. I can’t explain that one.

In Conclusion

To pluralize a name that ends in “s” you must add “es.” [All of the Addamses will be there.]

To show possession with a plural noun that ends in “s,” you simply add an apostrophe. [The Sludges’ car is parked outside.]

You add an apostrophe and then “s” to show possession if the noun is singular. [Don’t touch Wednesday Addams’s chainsaw.]

To show that a name ending in “s” is both plural and possessive, you add “es” and then an apostrophe. [We’ll see you at the Addamses’ house.]

More Examples


And from the mouth of Charles Addams, “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

If this blog has you questioning all the things you thought you knew in life, contact Unscripted for some help sorting it all out before you mail those Christmas cards.

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