I want to express my family in English. As far as I did research, plural form of family name has that meaning. However, I do not fully understand how 'the' works here.

Suppose the family name is Smith, are there any differences between 'the Smiths' and 'Smiths'?

  • Welcome! I guess it is nicer to show the effort you'd already made. For example, when I am not sure the usage of a word, I usually look up the definition/explanation and examples on a dictionary or other trusted reference. And then I might ask some question based on that. That would help answerers know what you've understood and what not. Here are some online free references that are commonly recognized,Wikipedia, Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, Collins Dictionary, VOA, Google Ngram.
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


calling your family 'the Smiths' works better. if you use it in a sentence, for example

'this is my family, we are known as the Smiths'

it makes sense as you are referring to them as a group of people. if you said 'this is my family, we are known as Smiths', it is not correct and can cause confusion as some names have multiple meanings, e.g. 'Smith' is a job title and a name. When you talk about a family name this way, use 'the' to refer to the members as a collection. Here are some examples:

If your family surname was 'Kim', you could say 'This is my family, and together we are the Kims'

If you had neighbours with the surname 'Taylor' you could say 'The Taylors live next door'

hope that helps a bit

  • 2
    However, when talking about yourselves as a family you could say "We Smiths are all tall people." Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 7:51
  • @victoria Thank you very much! I will use "the Smiths". Also only the explanation that "smiths" sounds like they may be talking about jobs is great. I get it!
    – toshi-san
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 9:16
  • @Kate Thanks for your comment. This is also very important.
    – toshi-san
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 9:17

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