How does one pluralize a family name?

  • Wir heißen den Smiths? der Smithen?
  • Wir sind die Smith Familie?

Which of these is most natural, and which are acceptable?

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Usually you pluralize a family name in German with an "s":

Wir sind die Schmidts.

But your proposals also are in principle okay, albeit lightly to correct:

Wir heißen Schmidt.
Wir sind Familie Schmidt.

  • 2
    It is somewhat surprising for non-native speakers that the default plural inflection for things that aren't really nouns is "-s", when almost no normal German words form an "-s" plural, but it's nevertheless true. Language is fun! – Kilian Foth Oct 11 at 6:29
  • 2
    +1. You can also find these two options reflected in the German titles of American sitcoms. E.g. The Jeffersons became Die Jeffersons, and The Flintstones became Die Familie Feuerstein. – johnl Oct 11 at 6:30
  • @KilianFoth: I assume, that this is exactly the reason for the -s plural. One has not necessarily an idea, which language the name derives from and which declination to apply, therefore one opts for a generic/international scheme. – guidot Oct 11 at 15:31

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.