Submitted by susanallred on April 1, 2005

Plural of name ending in Y

If I want to say the Murphys meaning Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, is it “Murphies” or Murphy’s. I’m not using it possessively, just referring to both of them such as “The Murphy’s are a nice couple.

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Any (predominantly Polish!) name that ends in an i; for argument's sake, let's say Warski.

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@Therese - for example?

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What about last name that end in i?

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@Warsaw Will – Oops, I sure did. Good catch, forgive. By the way, Orderic, son of Odelarius of Orleans, wrote that Roger stayed in Normandy, first going to England in December of the year 1067. On the other hand, Orderic confirms some of Roger's Montgomeris were at Hastings.

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@Hekter Hairfoot McGlammery - I don't doubt you, but I thought we were more interested in spelling here than in genealogy. Incidentally, you got your James numbers reversed.

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@Warsaw Will – Dig deep and you'll find the Montgomeries who were ancestors of James I of Scotland–James VI of England. This might explain why King James was so generous in granting Hugh the lands of Con O'Neil in Ulster? Montgomerys do have a long history, it' true.

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@Warsaw Will – Dig deep and you'll find the Montgomeries who were ancestors of James I of Scotland–James VI of England. This might explain why King James was so generous in granting Hugh the lands of Con O'Neil in Ulster. Montgomerys do have a long history, it' true.

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@Hekter Hairfoot McGlammery - the Seton bit may be true, but you have to go way back to the sixth earl (1588–1661) to find the Seton who changed his name to Montgomerie, part of the conditions of the entail made by his cousin, the childless fifth earl, Hugh Montgomeriey, and confirmed by James VI. In any case, the name (what we're interested in here) has continued unchanged from Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton (c.1460 - 1545) to the present.

As for the Montgommery spelling, I think it's the case that there was a lot of inconsistency in the spelling of names in the 'old days'. This is from French Wikipedia:

'La famille Montgommery (ou Montgomery, Montgomeri) est une importante famille normande originaire du Calvados.'

Roger (1) de Montgommery was part of the entourage of Robert, Duke of Normandy, and his son Roger sailed with Robert's son, one William the Bastard, to England in 1066, and served William so well he was given a considerable amount of land, stretching over both England and Wales, and awarded the title of Earl of Shrewesbury in 1074. While the French Wikipedia spells his name de Montgommery, English Wikipedia spells it de Montgomerie. The Welsh county of Montgomeryshire is apparently called after him.

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Warsaw Will,

Archibald George, the 18th and current Earl of Eglinton, uses "Montgomerie" for surname, but A. G. is actually a "Seton" by pedigree, and not a bloodline Montgomerie. Google always thinks "Mountgomery" should conform to "Montgomery" but I protest. Then there's H. Noel Williams, who used "Montgommery" for Gabriel de Lorges, accidental slayer of Henri II, but for the life of me I cannot find where that spelling came from.

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@MBS - Forget my last comment. I presume "So I am writing a historical novel" means something like "Supposing I were writing a historical novel" - it doesn't mean you actually are. Anyway, it was quite fun to research.

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Forget Word, Firefox doesn't like either of them either, but the far superior spell check in Google docs, which is contextually based, accepts both. Judging by Google Books, you could go either way, but it seems to be nearly 2:1 in favour of Montgomerys (15,800 to 8,200). There is, for example, "A Genealogical History of the Montgomerys and Their Descendants" by a certain David B.Montgomery.

And while there's an 1859 book "Memorials of the Montgomeries, earls of Eglinton" the Wikipedia entry on Clan Montgomery shows the coat of arms of the Montgomerys, Earls of Eglinton.

There is a further complication in that, according to the Clan Montgomery website, some people have the surname Montgomerie, which would boost the IE figures. Incidentally, that website seems to use exclusively "Montgomerys" when talking of various Montgomery families.

http://www.clanmontgomery.org/links.html

This Ngram graph suggests that the Y version overtook the IE version around 1910, and that the Y version is much more common nowadays.

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=th...

Small point. If you're writing a historical novel, shouldn't you have been doing this sort of research already?

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Wow! I was looking for a short answer, however I am more perplexed than when I started. So I am writing a historical novel, does this govern how I write the last name of my character when referring to his family: Montgomery. Should it be Montgomeries or Montgomerys? Either way, Word doesn't like either spelling. I liked how "Name ends with 'Y' mentioned language is constantly evolving, but in historical terms, do I follow the old rule? Please advise.

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(If the family name is Clinton.) Are these correct?
1. I'm going over to the Clintons' house.
and what about the short version:
I'm going over to the Clintons.

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For anyone who thinks anonymous might be right, try googling "the kennedies" and you'lll get your answer.

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Though my name is not as common as Kennedy or Murphy, it is one of those fortunate names that ends in a "y." (Notice the correct punctuation with a quotation mark so you can take me seriously.) I wouldn't cause much of a fuss, but still would feel a little insulted if the "y" in my last name was replaced entirely by an "ies." Regardless of the rules, I prefer the "ys" for pluralization.

Plus, I work in the legal field and have a BA in English. I agree with "Anonymous 2" that commonly-accepted writing should control. Language is constantly adapting and changing and to try to force the rules down another's throat is counter-intuitive to remaining current and relevant (the word "ask" was originally "aks" and some today are reverting, by common use, to the old pronunciation and spelling.)

When writing names in the legal field it is especially important to refer to someone with the exact spelling of their name or the opposing counsel can make an argument that you are creating confusion for the court (whether a judge agrees, the other side can still argue it and make you look stupid.)

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Chicago Manual of Style:

"DO use the apostrophe to form the plural of an abbreviation that combines upper and lowercase letters or has interior periods:
The department graduated five M.A.’s and two Ph.D.’s this year.
NOTE: If you leave out the periods, you can write MAs but you’d still have to write PhD’s.
DO use the apostrophe to form the plural of lowercase letters:
Mind your p’s and q’s."

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Do not change the spelling of a person's name to make it plural. How do you differentiate between the plural form of the name "Murphy" and the plural form of the name "Murphie?" They are not both "Murphies." I would definitely go with "Murphys" for the plural of "Murphy."

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There is a difference between correct and commonly-accepted writing. I write for a legal publication and my wife has written for the AP, and both of our employers emphasize(d) that we write for the masses, ie., for a fifth-grade education level (this was more appalling to me years ago, but it fails to amaze me now). Therefore, I use the commonly-accepted form, "Murphys," in writing for my employer. The great writers in literature would use the correct "Murphies."

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Ha--one of the problems with changing an ending *y* to *ies* for names is demonstrated with the name *Mary*, whose plural would in that case be identical to the plural for *Marie*. Mr. (or Ms.) "quite incorrect" is amazingly assertive for one so ill-informed.

As it happens, I live in the Rockies, and was aware of the exception. But I presume that Mr Balboa and others with his given name are Rockys.

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Dear Anonymous,

I happen to be one of those newspaper people you referred to who "should know better."
In fact, I do know better than you do.
I have my AP Stylebook in front of me, which is the gold standard reference book of news writing, and it clearly states that while most words ending in 'y' follow the rule you quoted concerning consonants, proper names are an exception.
Here is what the AP book says:
"Most [proper names] ending in 'y' add 's' even if preceded by a consonant: 'the Duffys', 'the Kennedys', 'the two Kansas Citys'. Exceptions include 'Alleghenies' and 'Rockies.' For others, add 's': 'the Carters,' 'the McCoys,' 'the Mondales.'

Please do your research before denouncing professionals as doing something "quite incorrect."

Thank you.

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"'kennedys' is quite incorrect"
For the record, so is not capitalizing proper nouns or the first words of sentences.

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Anonymous is a dipshit. "Noone". LOLAIMLORRL

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What would you do when the proper noun has an even more irregular plural?

For example, would the Mouse family be the Mouses or the Mice?

Would the Sheep family by the Sheeps or the Sheep?

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Nice site man Thanks

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i have my language arts book right in front of me

it says: Murphys

and yes, it actually uses the name murphy in it's example

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THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF NOUNS ENDING IN Y
donkey
day
puppy
bakery
quality
butterfly
bunny
army
kitty
victory
baby
family
spy
canary
toy
monkey
fairy
comedy
lily
sky
key
candy
city
country
dairy
berry
way
library
copy
tray
community
pony
lady

Date: September 15, 2009
Time: 9:30am

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You guys are hillarious.

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You never use an apostrophe to pluralize, so it would be Konoskes.

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What about the plural of our family name Konoske,
would that be Konoskes or Konoske's?

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Murphys

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I have the need to discern what to do with the Leoneli(s) seizing an opportunity for a publication.

I recall a college English prof telling me not to change the endings on proper names (ie., all the Christys at the party, not all the Christies at the party).

I'm going to go with either "The Leonelis seized the opportunity" or the Leoneli family members or something like that if I don't think it alters the piece too much.

Thanks for your "debate."

We had another good one to contend with a while back: "faculty(s)" of all the schools. I cannot recall if we went with faculties or faculty members.

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i just gave the rule as i know it because noone had answered the original question grammatically.

and btw, james, "y" is not a semi-vowel in "day" it's a silent sound (the vowel sound in the syllable is carried by the preceding "a" and not the "y" which has no sound in this case). y as a semi-vowel behaves like a consonant as in words like "yes" and "yawn", usually when the y is the first letter in the word.

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Anonymous, interesting to see you're so unequivocal about what's 'right' and so convinced that others 'should know better'! But we won't go back to some controversy from the 1960s about whether linguists should 'describe' or 'prescribe'.

It's so true that the spelling rules say if 'y' is a full vowel (eg 'daisy') it will change to '-ies'; but if it's a semi-vowel (ie after another vowel, like in 'day') it adds an -s.

Just - even old prescriptive style guides and grammar books say family names are different! I've got one here from 1903 that says you just add an '-s'. Have you seriously ever seen anyone write or teach 'Kennedies' or 'the Bradies'?

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the rule has always been that the plural form of a noun ending in 'y', whether it's a name or not, will depend on whether there is a vowel or a consonant before the 'y'.

so, for example, the plural of a word like 'boy' is 'boys' because it's a vowel 'o' before the 'y'. so if it's a vowel before the 'y' then the plural form will always end in 's'.

a word such as 'city' will change to 'cities' in the plural form because the letter before the 'y' is the consonant'. therefore, if it's a consonant before the 'y' then the plural form will always end in 'ies'.

it's exactly the same for proper nouns: it's one kennedy and two kennedies. one murphy, two murphies and so on simply because the letter before the final 'y' is a consonant in both cases.

'kennedys' is quite incorrect but widely seen, even in newspapers and publications that should know better.

a plural form of a noun never ends in 's, such as "the murphy's are nice people". that's plain wrong. an apostrophe before an 's' indicates a contraction of the name with the verb to be (ie, "murphy is here" becomes "murphy's here") or to show possession: eg, "that's murphy's car".

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Murphyes lol :)

The great equalizer: The Web Search
Murphys - 1,220,000 (98.9%)
Murphies - 13,500 (1.1%)
Murphyes - 23 (0.002%)

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Add -s or -es.

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Go for either Murphies or Murphys--both look a tad weird to me, but I'm positive that any use of the apostrophe in this situation is just plain wrong.

Also check out this closely-related thread: http://www.painintheenglish.com/post.asp?id=223

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When a family name (a proper noun) is pluralized, we almost always simply add an "s." So we go to visit the Smiths, the Kennedys, the Grays, etc.When a family name ends in s, x, ch, sh, or z, however, we form the plural by added -es, as in the Marches, the Joneses, the Maddoxes, the Bushes, the Rodriguezes. Do not form a family name plural by using an apostrophe; that device is reserved for creating possessive forms.

taken from - http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm

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