Holidays and Grammar

Fathers' Day was this past week, so I was confronted with the challenges of the plural and possessive s all over my facebook feed and the Walgreen's card section. A friend asked, "Is it s apostrophe or apostrophe s?" Well, I supposed, like so many grammar issues, that depends.

When we add the apostrophe to show possession, we are essentially using the apostrophe instead of "of". As in

The car's tires   vs.    The tires of the car


The cars' tires  vs.   The tires of the cars

So, by the same logic

Happy Father's Day  is the same as  Happy Day of the Father


Happy Fathers' Day  is the same as  Happy Day of Fathers

So, which one is correct might depend on your culture. For example, some languages might use the singular because the plural form is also masculine. In Spanish, "el dia del padre" would be "the day of the father" but "el dia de los padres" might be "the day of the parents" rather than a day celebrating all fathers. Or it might depend on whether you are celebrating one particular father (I can imagine some religious arguments here) as opposed to a day celebrating all fathers.

However, for most of us, the holiday is supposed to celebrate all fathers, in which case it should certainly be s apostrophe.

Happy Fathers' Day!