Beyond PR

Dec 28, 2015

Grammar Hammer: Happy New Year, New Year’s, or New Years?

Happy New Year or New Years

For my final Grammar Hammer of 2015, I tackle where to place the apostrophe when writing about the transition from 2015 to 2016:

Dear Grammar Hammer,

Each December, I get really confused. When I talk to my friends about that celebration on December 31, do I ask what they’re doing for New Years? Or is it New Year’s?

Signed, Stymied in Times Square

Dear Stymied,

Here are my quick tips for minding the Ps, Qs, and apostrophes of your holiday celebrations.

When you make your rounds on December 31, you are celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. The parties on December 31 are celebrating New Year’s Eve. Because it’s the eve of the new year, you should include an apostrophe-S at the end of the word “year” to show possession.

When you ask your friends, “What are you doing for New Year’s?” remember that the colloquial New Year’s is a shorter version of New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, so it should include the apostrophe.

On January 1, you are celebrating New Year’s Day (the first day of the new year). However, when you show up for brunch on January 1, drop the possessive, wish your hosts “Happy New Year,” and enjoy the festivities.


Of course, if you want to avoid apostrophes altogether, you could take your festivities in a different direction and celebrate Hogmanay.

The Scottish version of New Year’s Eve has Viking roots and includes the fun tradition of who will have the “first footing” (the first person to enter the house after midnight). This person will bring gifts such as food or coal for the stove.

First-footing is said to affect a household’s fortunes for the coming year, so link arms with your guests and belt out Auld Lang Syne (whiskey toasts optional).

The key part of Hogmanay is to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality to wish everyone a “Guid New Year.” The belief is to clear out the clutter of the old year, make a fresh start, and welcome in the new year on a happy note.

However you choose to celebrate the transition between December 31 and January 1, put your punctuation fears to rest and enjoy.

I look forward to answering your grammar questions in 2016 and recommend checking out our Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist for more tips that will help prepare your content in the new year!

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services with more than 20 years’ experience counseling brands on their content. She also authors Beyond PR’s long-running Grammar Hammer series. Follow Cathy on Twitter @cathyspicer and tweet her your #grammargripes.

5 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Rebecca 23:16 EST on Dec 31, 2015

So on the eve one would say "Happy New Year’s."?

­ Aykut 13:38 EST on Jan 3, 2016

Thanks for the solution of a historical PR person problem 🙂

­ Devi 17:27 EST on Jan 4, 2016

";New Year's" is used by speakers of American English. For non-Americans, it is just ";New Year".

­ Angela Jackson Case 11:18 EST on Jan 15, 2016

Like this.

­ Shakil T 07:00 EDT on Oct 19, 2016

PR Newswire is an excellent way to promote our articles in good price. I think grammar problem is everywhere for New Years Eve or New Year or New Year’s Eve

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