‘Tis the season for bookish gifts, literary awards, and pluralization troubles. Greeting cards and holiday imagery are usually littered with seasonal sentiments and last name conundrums – so today we will get to the bottom of common mistakes made with plural (and non-plural) titles as well as other errors.
When used in a sentence, the “merry” before Christmas is usually incorrectly capitalized:
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
We wish you a merry Christmas!
The same goes for New Year’s Day and Eve:
Have a safe and Happy New Year!
Have a safe and happy New Year!
Of course, the argument can be made for capitalizing all the words on a holiday greeting because of personal preference. To this I say: do your thing, chicken wing. It’s your personal greeting, after all; I’m just here to tell you what is stylistically correct (I myself prefer to capitalize all first letters Oprah style. YOU’RE a capital letter! YOU’RE a capital letter!).
These, however, do not lend you the privilege of stylistic liberty. Pluralization may just be one of the many challenging parts of language, or at least the English language. What do I do if the word ends in “s”? What about “es”? Why is my life so hard? Breathe – here are some fun holiday themed explanations for using apostrophes correctly.
Season’s Greetings NOT Seasons Greetings or Seasons’ Greeting’s
The greetings belong to the season. Since season is a singular noun that doesn’t end with an s, to show the possession an apostrophe followed by an s is the correct way to start this sentiment – and no apostrophe is needed for greetings since its s just indicates there is more than one greeting.
New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve or Happy New Year NOT New Years’ Day or Happy New Year’s
Again with the possessive. The Day and Eve belong to the New Year, a singular noun not ending in s, so to show that possession an apostrophe followed by an s is correct.
New Years is incorrect, and especially when you end it with an apostrophe. Remember, the day belongs to the New Year (not the New Years); yes, an apostrophe after a noun ending in s to show possession is acceptable, but this is a case of incorrect spelling rather than incorrect apostrophe usage.
Quite possibly the most butchered item on a Christmas or general greeting card. If you only learn one more thing in your entire life, learn how to write your name in all scenarios.
I’m talking about you, Hoffman. Greetings from the Hoffman’s makes me wonder if you ran out of characters to put on your card; the Hoffman’s what? Greetings from the Hoffmans tells me you, your spouse, and your children send me greetings; there’s no need for the apostrophe because you aren’t indicating possession of an object.
And you, Jones. Please remember that since your name ends in s, an es is required to show plurality. Happy holidays from the Joneses.
And no need to change your name, Mr. and Mrs. Avery. For irregular nouns, like man, child, and bunny, adding an s or es to make them plural does not work. However, this does not apply to proper nouns. Your name is your name; even the English language gives you a pass on its spelling. Happy New Year from the Averies is acceptable if your last name is Averie. Otherwise, Happy New Year from the Averys is correct.
Of course, if you’re inviting guests over for a party, don’t throw away your knowledge of possession as if it’s your aunt’s fruitcake. You’re invited to the Smith’s holiday bash and The Avery’s annual Christmas party are two examples of correctly written possessive statements (the Jones’ home and the Jones’s home are both correct).
I hope this doesn’t stop you from sending greeting cards, but instead pushes you to proofread and double check your work – it will be especially important as you pour over your cards’ design after a few spicy eggnogs.