The Grammarphobia Blog

Why is there an “e” in Pat’s last name?

Q: My last name is O’Connor and I was always told by my Irish relatives that there was no such spelling of O’Connor with an “er” at the end. Can you explain why Patricia’s last name ends that way?

A: Your family is right. The correct spelling of our last name is “O’Connor.” In my case, the name got misspelled somewhere along the way, beginning with my father’s generation. My birth certificate actually has the misspelling, as does my sister’s. I always wanted to change it back but never did and now it’s too late. Sigh.