Happy Thanksgiving!

Thinking about Thanksgiving here in the United States got me thinking about names of holidays and grammar rules. For instance, if you use Eve or Day with the name of a holiday, i.e., Thanksgiving Day, you capitalize day. However, if you were to say “the day before Thanksgiving,” day would not be capitalized. Religious holidays are also capitalized

  • Good Friday
  • Hanukkah

Even some “invented” holidays are capitalized

  • Black Friday
  • Pi Day

Is happy capitalized when used with a holiday? If you exclaim “Happy Thanksgiving!” then it is, but if you use it in a regular sentence “I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving,” then it is not.

Generally, the seasons of the year are not capitalized unless it is part of a proper name.

  • This winter seems to be colder than normal.
  • The Phoenix College Spring Semester 2014 will begin in January.
  • HOWEVER: The fall semester is nearly over.

When using seasons to describe time of year, remember that seasons are reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. When it is summer in the U.S., it is winter in most of South America and Australia. In that case, it is clearer to say “the first three months of the year,” or “the last quarter of 2014.”

As for possessives with the word “season,” the phrase Season’s greetings! is possessive because you are referring to holidays that happen only during one season—winter. Possessives with names of holidays are usually singular; however, where the holiday is plural, the apostrophe is after the plural word:

  • Presidents’ Day (celebrating more than one president)
  • April Fools’ Day (more than one fool)
  • Mother’s Day (each family celebrating its mother and it is the official name of the holiday)
  • Father’s Day (same)
  • HOWEVER: Veterans Day (official name of the holiday)

The official holiday name wins out over plurals and possessives, so you may just have to look it up to be positive you are correct.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and know that when I count my blessings, the people who read my blog faithfully, those who stumble across it, and those who cheer me on are near the top of my list. Thank you!

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Grammar Giggles – That’s Some Sale!

Here is another example of the importance of proofreading not only the original draft, but the final copy of everything. I assume this was pretty embarrassing (and a waste of good advertising dollars) for this retailer.

Dining Event

Selfies, Binge-watching, Twerking, and Oxford

This week, Oxford Dictionaries named “selfie” the word of the year for 2013.  Oxford University Press names a word or expression every year that “best reflects the mood of the times.” It appears that “selfie” was first used on an Australian online forum in 2002 and in 2004, Flickr users started using the hashtag #selfie. Use of the word was not widespread until 2012 when it was being used across mainstream media. Other words on this year’s shortlist are:

  • twerk – thanks, Miley.
  • showrooming – “the practice of visiting a shop to look at a product before buying it online at a lower price.” I didn’t know there was a word for this or that others do this too.
  • Bitcoin – digital currency
  • binge-watch – “watching many episodes of a TV show in rapid succession.” I’m sure this is thanks to Netflix, Amazon, and AppleTV, and those constant marathons on television.

Previous words of the year (from http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/press-releases/oxford-dictionaries-word-of-the-year-2013/) include:

Year Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year Oxford Dictionaries US Word of the Year
2004 chav
2005 sudoku podcast
2006 bovvered carbon-neutral
2007 carbon footprint locavore
2008 credit crunch hypermiling
2009 simples unfriend
2010 big society refudiate
2011 squeezed middle
2012 omnishambles GIF (verb)

Now I’m off to go start looking up some definitions while I’m binge-watching and taking selfies!

Grammar Giggles – Right Turn, Left Turn

I got this one from Twitter. Traffic signs that are confusing are the worst. People depend on traffic signs to help them navigate from Point A to Point B, and when they aren’t completely clear or are completely incomprehensible–like this one–it just adds stress to an already difficult activity.

Right lane

Grammar Giggles – I Don’t Think the Months Are Spelled Differently in Canada

Here’s an example of a very simple error that wasn’t caught by a Toronto newspaper. This is an error that word processing spell check should actually find. Don’t always ignore the red squiggly lines–they may have a message you need to pay attention to.

Toronto Star

Dates and Commas

Dates seem to be confusing for some people. When you use a complete date (month, day, and year), you should use a comma before AND after the year.

  • On November 11, 2013, the Veterans’ Day parade will start at 10 a.m., but I will be at work.
  • Please send me your time entries for November 1 to December 31, 2012, so I can prepare the fee application.

Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, if other punctuation is necessary after the year, you would omit the comma immediately after the year.

  • On November 11, 2013 (the federal Veterans’ Day holiday), I will miss the parade because I am working.

Also, if the date is in the day, month, year style (13 November 2013), there are no commas unless the sentence requires a comma for another reason.

Where a comma after the year might lead to some confusion, use a semicolon.

  •  Our office will be closed on November 27, 28, and 29, 2013; December 23, 24, and 25, 2013; and January 1, 2, and 3, 2014.

Note that my office will NOT be closed on all of those days. Unfortunately, it is for illustrative purposes only and I will be hard at work on most of those days.

Where you are using just the month and year, there are no commas unless the sentence needs it for another reason.

  • The September 2013 totals show a rise in sales.
  •  We spent most of September 2013, the wettest September on record, trying to keep the water from coming into the house. [Here the commas set off a descriptive expression.]

Don’t be afraid of commas with dates, just learn to use them correctly.

Grammar Giggles – The Danger of Templates

Found this one on Twitter and, yes, she has demanded a replacement.  When the name is very obviously a woman (“Mrs. Suzanne”), using “his wife” and “his” is inexcusable. This is the danger of using templates and not checking them every single time.

Certificate of Appreciation