Confusing Possessives Revisited

As the second Sunday in May approaches, many of you may be wondering how to write the name of the holiday—is it Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day, or Mothers Day? We first looked into the topic of where to properly place holiday apostrophes in a 2008 newsletter. Today we provide an update.

The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook list the following holidays as singular possessives: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. CMOS uses plural possessive for Presidents’ Day, while AP Style writes Presidents Day. Both agree on no apostrophe in Veterans 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

Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 11:00 pm

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3 Comments on Confusing Possessives Revisited

3 responses to “Confusing Possessives Revisited”

  1. Carey Lawes says:

    How do you address a situation where two persons possess, say a book? Marsha and Mary’s book are on the table

  2. Chris says:

    I think that the example of “Children’s Day” shows that it ought to be “Mothers’ Day”. It would never be “Child’s Day”, so it shouldn’t be “Mother’s Day”; it would never be “Children Day”, so it shouldn’t be “Mothers Day”.

    Of course, here in England we solve the problem by calling it “Mothering Sunday” instead!

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