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  1. #1
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    Default Genitive forms and plural family names

    Hello,

    I recently noticed that the spelling at the Johnson's place was sometimes preferred to the grammatically 'correct' at the Johnsons' place - when the home in which the Johnsons live is referred to, that is.

    Would you say that it is becoming acceptable to use it, or is it still regarded as incorrect (in other words, would an English teacher tolerate it in Britain, or would that definitely be regarded as a mistake in a pupil's essay ?)

    Thank you very much for whatever help you could provide me with.

  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Genitive forms and plural family names

    Hello Stephan

    I would myself always regard it as incorrect:

    1. Mr & Mrs Johnson =>
    2. The Johnsons =>
    3. The Johnsons' house.

    Thus:

    4. Don't we have to go round the Johnsons' tonight?
    5. Did you hear? The Johnsons' Siamese cat has just been stolen by a gang of international pet thieves.

    (That would be how you'd find it in a newspaper or book published by a larger publishing house, for instance.)

    All the best,

    MrP

  3. #3
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Genitive forms and plural family names

    Several times a year, I get a catalog from a company that sells (among other things) custom-made address and name signs for your front yard or the side of your house. The photographs of the sample signs in the catalog all say "The Johnson's" [sic] as though the house were owned by someone called "The Johnson." I've stopped writing them nasty letters; they won't listen to me unless I buy one of their signs.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Genitive forms and plural family names

    Probably not worth the investment. There's a shop near my old house that said it was an 'off-licence' on the front and 'off-license' on the side. I never could work out the grammar rule for this.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Genitive forms and plural family names

    Thanks a lot, MrPedantic and mykwyner.

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