Tuesday, July 09, 2013


There are pros and cons to this post. 

  • I am not a grammar expert.  I have many downfalls including a prolific use of run-on sentences, dangling participles, etc. 
  • I risk sounding...bossy? Nagging? Arrogant? Condescending? Ungrateful?  After all, if someone wants to acknowledge us in a group, I should graciously appreciate it, not point out their error.
  • If I can be a conduit to help you speak and write properly, I am honored.

There is an awkwardness in the air around us. I have noticed it since I acquired this name almost 33 years ago. This week was only two days old and there had already been three infractions in my presence. Think this is not a problem? 

From the pulpit:
We'd like to thank the Browns, the Kennedys, and the Marx for....     
(Names changed to protect the innocent)
Who is "the Marx?" Why were the Browns and Kennedys plural, but our name was left hanging weirdly singular out there?  I wonder if they hear what is coming out of their mouths? Doesn't that sentence sound odd to you when you speak it?  Why doesn't your brain kick in and fill in the blank correctly, "the Browns, the Kennedys, and the Marxes?"
Later in the same 3-hour block of time:  "If you have any questions, ask the Marx." 
I have seen this pop up when people write lists of names.  As you read down the list it could look something like:
The Brown Family
The Marx
The Jones Family
Again, why is our surname singular in a sea of plurals or families?
I really try to not take it personal, but it's hard not to take it personal when it is my name.  To set the record straight, here is the rule for making a proper noun ending in x plural:
Add "es"
It would be spoken or written as such:
"If you have any questions, ask the Marxes."
"The party is at the Marxes."
"We would like to thank the Marxes."
"Are all of the Marxes related?"  (yes.)
If I was ordering a welcome mat for my front door, it would say:
Welcome to the Marxes
Some might prefer to have it say Welcome to the Marx's.  That would be correct possessive form.  This would give the implied meaning of "Welcome to the Marx's home"  but on my welcome mats, I prefer to let you know that there are many Marxes living in this home, and we all welcome you to join us.  Wording in this instance would be personal preference, but both would be correct use of plural or possessive form.
To speak the possessive form of Marx it sounds like the plural, but to write the possessive form, you simply add an apostrophe s.  Examples:
The Marx's boat.  The Marx's car. The Marx's hydraulic jack.  The Marx's time. Whatever the item might be.
And finally the plural possessive form:  Marxes'
I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but if you ever need to mention something that belongs to a collective group of Marx family members, there you have it.
I am Kim Marx
Married to Ron Marx
We form Ron & Kim Marx
Together we are referred to as the Marxes


Anonymous said...

Actually, the examples you gave for the singular possessive form would work for the plural possessive. Some better examples might be:

Singular possessive: Kim Marx's car, Ron Marx's truck, etc.
Plural possessive: the Marxes' house, the Marxes' car

So even on your doormat, you might want to consider "...the Marxes" or "...the Marxes'."

I, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. Too many people add an 's' to my last name. I'm often wondering which of my family members they are including in their statement since they made my name plural. I am NOT Tracy Younkers (or even worse, Yonkers). After 44 years with this name (and problem) I go ahead and correct people, especially if it is someone who has known me for a long period of time as I did recently to a gentleman at church. I pointed out that he has known me for 13 years, and it would be nice if he could use my correct name. Most of the time, I just pluralize their name right back to them. "Hello, John Smiths." It usually works. ;-)

LGTownsend said...

Are you related to the Lorax? Or Loraxes? I feel your pain. I have a similar conundrum. Michael informed me, about 35 years ago, that there was a curse on the name Townsend. If the event/document is important, then it will be misspelled or mispronounced. First time I experienced this is when I had to get a another new SS card after getting married because they misspelled it the first time. I've been called Thompson, Thomas, Towson and Townson. They even misspelled Michael's name on Zan's birth cert. It will be a fun puzzle for someone doing genealogy in the future.

Jamie said...

I thought this post might be another one of your hoax, like those fax you sent about all the ox you killed with just a few ax, or that collection of lunchbox and boombox that both sex were sure to love, but that would create a bunch of paradox or something.

Moral of the story: suffix are important!