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Confusing Possessives: Holidays
Example: Mother’s Day vs. Mothers’ Day vs. Mothers Day
With titles, you may think of the word in front of the noun as either singular, plural, or possessive. For example, do you think of the holiday as belonging to each mother individually (Mother’s Day) or to all mothers collectively (Mothers’ Day)? Or do you think of the word Mothers as an adjective describing Day? There is no right or wrong answer to this question.
The same holds true for other holidays.
Secretary’s Day vs. Secretaries Day vs. Secretaries’ Day
Boss’s Day vs. Bosses Day vs. Bosses’ Day
Do you think of each secretary or boss “owning” the day individually (Secretary’s Day/Boss’s Day), as a group “owning” the day (Secretaries’ Day/Bosses’ Day), or as a plural adjective (Secretaries Day/Bosses Day)? Again, there is no right or wrong answer.
The Chicago Manual of Style lists the following holidays as singular possessives: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. Plural possessive is used for Presidents’ Day.
Your guess is as good as anyone’s about Secretary’s vs. Secretaries’ vs. Secretaries Day and Boss’s vs. Bosses’ vs. Bosses Day.
What would you do if we had a Children’s Day holiday? Because Children is an irregular plural (not formed by adding an s or es), you would have to use the apostrophe in the title because there is no such word as Childrens.
Example: Children’s Hospital
Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com's "Grammar Blog."
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How to Write Good
If you see what is incorrect in the previous line, you will appreciate these two "rules":
1. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
2. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.