I suppose we can use "The + surname in plural" even if we speak only about two persons from that family, not about all the family members, right? For example:

The Stones are going shopping for their children now.

  • 2
    Yes, that's fine. But if you just said, "The Stones are going shopping" it could mean the whole family is going shopping. Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 23:09
  • @Old Brixtonian, If I understand you right, we can use "the Stones" for two persons of the big family when there was created the previous context for that. For example, "the brother and sister decided to go to Little Lake. The Stones were going there, when suddenly started a heavy rain." Rght?
    – Sergei
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 5:41
  • 2
    I think it would mainly be used of a married couple or the whole family. You would only refer to two siblings from a large family as 'the Stones' if you needed to identify them among a group of other people. "Everyone contributed something for the picnic. The Stones brought a cake made by their mother." Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 7:58
  • @Kate Bunting, yeah, you're right. In my native language it would be the same. For example, "The Stones are the best students in the class."
    – Sergei
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Both sentences:

  • The Stones are going shopping for their children now.
  • The Stones are going shopping today.

are grammatically valid and quite natural. A fluent speaker might say or write either. But both are at least potentially ambiguous. If there are more than two Stones, or more than two with children, one cannot tell without additional context which group of the Stones is meant. Context may, and often will, make this clear. Of course if the sentence is:

The Stones are going shopping for a family spaceship today.

Then I think I know which family is probably meant.

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