Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
For a family card which is proper, i.e. if your name is “Brown”…Do you say “from the Brown’s” or “from the Browns?” Thank you.
I guess I’ll just call you “Brown” then? 🙂 OK, Brown, according to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, the apostrophe has three uses:
- To form possessives of nouns
- To show the omission of letters
- To indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters.
OK..But what does that really mean in your situation?
Proper grammar for signing a card would be:
From The Browns.
The only time you’d use an apostrophe for the whole family would be if your last name was “Brown” and you were showing ownership:
The Brown’s House.
Now, let’s make things a little more confusing. Let’s say your last name is “Browns” — with an ‘s’ at the end.
To sign the card, you would still say
“From the Browns”.
If, however, you wanted to show something owned by one of the Browns, you would add an apostrophe s to the end just like if it were a singular word (because it is one individual):
Mr. Browns’s hat.
If, however, you want show something the entire family owns– many people owning it — then you add the apostrophe to the end of the word after the ‘s’. So, for example, when sending out party invitations, you would say
“at the Browns’ House.”
Clear as mud?