“Family’s” or “Families:” Which One is Correct?

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If you’re not sure whether to use family’s or families, you’re not alone. It can be confusing to try to keep track of all the different plurals of words in English.

Luckily, there are some general rules that can help you figure out which one is correct in any given situation.

In short, family’s is used as the possessive form of “family” (showing ownership). Families is the plural form of “family” (meaning more than one family).

Noun: FamilyType
FamilySingular Noun
Family’sSingular Possessive Noun
FamiliesPlural Noun
Families’Plural Possessive Noun

Let’s look at the definitions of family, family’s, families and families’ to understand this topic more and explore how the word “family” can change in a sentence.

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Check out our similar article: Jones’, Jones’s or Joneses: Which is Correct?


The first thing to keep in mind is that “family” refers to more than one person.

“Family” is a collective noun, a word used to describe a group of people. Collective nouns like “family” are usually treated as singular nouns in American English grammar. It is sometimes treated as a plural noun in British English.

In these examples, we will treat the family as a singular noun.

For example, you could say, “The Smith family is going on vacation.”

Examples of Sentences with “Family”

The following sentences are all correct:

  • My family is going to the beach this weekend.
  • I come from a large family.
  • There are five people in my family.


The plural of family is families. For example, “There are several families going on vacation this summer.”

Examples of Sentences with “Families”

The following sentences are all correct:

  • Many families go to the beach in the summer.
  • Families can be large or small.
  • We interviewed several families for our research study.


The possessive form of “family” is family’s.

Remember that the possessive form shows ownership or belonging.

So, if you are talking about one family that owns something, you would use family’s. For example, “The Smith family’s vacation plans include a trip to the beach.”

Examples of Sentences with “Family’s”

The following sentences are all correct:

  • The family’s vacation was cut short by a storm.
  • We stayed at the family’s cabin in the woods.
  • The dog is chewing on the family’s shoes again.


Families’ is the plural possessive form of “family.”

If you are talking about multiple families that own something, you can use families’. For example, “The families’ vacation plans include a trip to the beach.”

Examples of Sentences with “Families’ “

The following sentences are all correct:

  • The families’ vacations were cut short by a storm.
  • The families’ promise is to keep the community litter-free.
  • All the families’ sons are best friends.

Is “Family” a Singular or Plural Noun?

Generally speaking, “family” can act as a singular noun (American English) or a plural noun (British English).

Therefore, “the family are going on vacation” and “the family is going on vacation” are grammatically acceptable sentences.

It also depends on whether you are referring to the family as a singular unit or if you are emphasizing each individual family member.

For example, “the family are playing in the park and the playground.”

Is It Family’s Life or Family’s Lives?

Both are acceptable as “family” can act as a singular or plural noun.

The family’s life has been full of happiness.

“The family’s lives have been full of happiness.”

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In Conclusion

The main thing to remember is that family is a collective noun, so you only need to use families when talking about more than one family.

The other thing to remember is that the possessive form of “family” is family’s. The possessive form of “families” is families’. This is the plural possessive form.

I hope this clears things up for you. If you have any other questions about English grammar, feel free to ask.

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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