Is It Father’s Day or Fathers Day?

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As the third Sunday in June approaches, many of you may be wondering how to write the name of the holiday—is it Father’s Day, Fathers’ Day, or Fathers Day?

We last looked into the topic of where to properly place holiday apostrophes in a 2018 newsletter. Today we provide an update.

Do You Use an Apostrophe When Spelling Father’s Day?

The most direct answer is yes. 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 writes Presidents Day. Both agree on no apostrophe in Veterans Day.

We have heard from readers who object to the apostrophe in Father’s Day because it implies one father. There are several scenarios in which a person can have two fathers: a father and stepfather, a biological father and adopted father, or a child being raised in a home with two fathers. The same can be true of two mothers.

Our post Apostrophes and False Possessives discusses how in English, nouns become adjectives all the time. If you think of the word Fathers as an adjective describing the word Day, then you would not use an apostrophe. It would be a day for fathers. The same could be said for using the plural possessive Fathers’ Day. It is a day belonging to all fathers.

Perhaps someday the style guides will drop the apostrophe. Until they do, your spell-check program will most likely identify Fathers Day or Fathers’ Day as an error.

Must Father’s Day Be Capitalized?

Another common question for some people may be whether Father’s Day should always be capitalized. The answer is that when we are referring to the holiday, we do capitalize it as a proper noun phrase.

If on the other hand we are making a general reference to a nonspecific day associated with a father, we most often will not capitalize the phrase.

Examples
(Proper noun phrase) Celebrated on the third Sunday of June, Father’s Day is a holiday founded by Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fatherhood and paternal bonds.

(General reference) When a dad can take the day off of work and spend it with his children, it can be a wonderful father’s day.

Looking for More Great Capitalization and Punctuation Tips?

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