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

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