What is the plural possessive form of family? What the heck did that question even mean? Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know. Since I’m kind of a wordsmith 🙂 and this site is all about families, let’s take a look.
What Is the Difference between Families and Family?
Family Is Singular
We all belong to a family unit. When one family owns something, we add an apostrophe plus an s. For instance: Our family’s dog.
Families Is Plural
How do you pluralize family? When two or more families get together, we have lots–or plural. If all those families together own something, we just add an apostrophe. For instance: The Smith families’ dogs.
Using the last example, I’ll show the difference.
The Smith family owns a cat. Another Smith family owns a dog.
See the Smith family’s cat. See the Smith family’s dog.
All of the Smith families have pets. See the Smith families’ pets.
Or if they all own dogs, for instance, you’d say: See the Smith families’ dogs.
Don’t Do This
Family is one of those words that has to drop the y, change to an i and add es when it becomes plural. So you don’t ever spell it familys when you are intending more than one. Similarly, with the plural families, you wouldn’t add an apostrophe before the s–no familie’s.
Tricks to Remember
- Spell the word first. Ask yourself, Am I talking about one or more than one? Family or Families.
- Decide if you’re showing ownership. No? Do nothing. You’re done. Yes? Add ‘s or ‘ at the end. Family’s or Families’.
Clear as mud? Keep practicing. When you’re out and about, be a word sleuth. Look for misspellings; this error is common. Once you can spot the errors, you’ll know you understand the correct concept–and you can teach it to someone else.
Click here to read what another wordsmith has to say, if you’re interested.