Is It “New Years” or “New Year’s”?

As if the words to “Auld Lang Syne” weren’t difficult enough to remember, ringing in a brand-new year comes with some particularly befuddling grammar landmines.

Of course, the punctuation we use when talking about the New Year’s holiday couldn’t do us a solid and follow the same pattern as Veterans Day (note the lack of apostrophe), because … well, that’s the English language for you.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered. From appropriate apostrophes to correct capitalization, here’s what you need to know to kick off the new year with good grammar.

When to use New Year’s (with apostrophe)

It’s that tricky apostrophe (or lack thereof) that trips up most people.

As we know, apostrophes are used to show possession or take the place of omitted letters in contractions. In the case of New Year’s, we’re talking about possession: the phrase “New Year’s” is a common shortening of both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, two holidays that celebrate the beginning of a new year. In the names of these days, the apostrophe indicates possession in that they are referring to “The Eve of the New Year” and “The Day of the New Year.”

Example 1: New Year’s Day
Example 2: New Year’s Eve
Example 3: New Year’s resolutions (resolutions made on New Year’s Eve/Day)
Example 4: New Year’s party (a New Year’s Eve/Day party)

Note that only Day and Eve are capitalized in the above examples, as they’re the names of specific holidays.

But to make it even more confusing, you should also use the ’s even when New Year’s stands alone as long as you’re talking about one or both of the two holidays. For example: “Let’s plan to get together for New Year’s.”

Here, the ’s implies Eve or Day. You should, however, probably get a bit more specific with your friends so they don’t show up on New Year’s Eve when you’re in your pajamas and were actually inviting them to brunch on New Year’s Day. Just saying.

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When to use New Year

When the clock strikes 12, there are often a few too many Ss flying about as people wish one another well. Since you’re celebrating the specific occasion, the greeting gets uppercase status (if you were to write it), but since there’s nothing specific to the eve or the day following the greeting, you don’t add an ’s.

 Correct: Happy New Year!

❌ Incorrect: Happy New Year’s!

Greetings can get a little tricky when it comes to capitalization, which isn’t exclusive to “Happy New Year!” For example, the normally lowercase “happy birthday” can be upgraded to capital letters in the greeting “Happy Birthday!”

When to use new year

On the other hand, if you’re just talking about getting together in the next year or things you plan to do in the coming year, then don’t use an apostrophe or capitalization. Capital letters are reserved for the specific holidays and aren’t needed when making generalizations.

 Correct: I’m going to use better grammar in the new year.

❌ Incorrect: I’m going to use better grammar in the New Year.

 Correct: A new year means new opportunities.

❌ Incorrect: A New Year means new opportunities.

WATCH: How Do Other Parts Of The World Celebrate The New Year?

When to say “Happy New Years”

The answer here is simple: Never.

“Happy New Years” implies there are two new years for which you’re extending good wishes. Since only one year will actually be new, you should drop the S.

✅ Correct: Happy New Year!

❌ Incorrect: Happy New Years!

So, as you raise a toast or make a post on social media in your pajamas, keep these rules in mind. Happy New Year, everyone!

What does "Auld Lang Syne" mean and why do we sing it? Learn about this New Year's Eve tradition that has caused confusion for many years.

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