Happy Thanksgiving Part Two

happy-thanksgivingA couple of years ago, I posted an article about Thanksgiving and other holidays and grammar issues. Since it is time again, here is an encore of that article.

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!


Grammar Giggle – Theses Cases

A friend sent this to me. I actually missed the error the first couple of times I read through it quickly, but it is there. I also looked up “Oftentimes,” which, while correct, is archaic and could easily be replaced with “Often.” Our goal should always be to make our writing more readable.


Grammar Giggle – Complementary/Complimentary

I saw this sign at an event I was attending recently. “Complementary” means something that completes or makes perfect (which a massage always does for me, but that’s not what they mean here). “Complimentary” means free of charge (which IS what they mean here).


Grammar Giggle – Where, Oh Where, Is The Hand Dryer?

A friend found this on our recent trip to Memphis in a restroom. Sometimes it isn’t an error in words that makes a Grammar Giggle. Sometimes it is an error in direction. While this sign tells you to use the hand dryer on the right, the hand dryer is actually on the left. Some good citizen tried to change the arrow direction, which only made me giggle more.


Pronouns, Reflexive Pronouns, and Myself

i-myselfWhile I’ve written about reflexive pronouns before (https://proofthatblog.com/2012/11/26/me-myself-and-i/), it is important enough that some of it bears repeating.

Pronouns are words that substitute for nouns and other pronouns. Personal pronouns are what we will be talking about here and they indicate the person speaking, the person spoken to, or the person or object spoken of. It is the Iyoumetheyhesheit of English. You typically choose the pronoun based on the person it is replacing. For instance:

  • She said it was too early (when she means Mary)
  • He drove his car like a maniac (where he means Bob).

The challenge comes with reflexive pronouns, which are pronouns that end in -self and reflect back on the pronoun previously mentioned. For example:

  • Mary said that it was hard to get up by herself 
  • Bill drove the car himself.

What is NOT correct is using the reflexive pronoun alone–without it being able to reflect back on the pronoun. So, for instance, saying:

  • If you have any questions, talk to myself.
  • Tony and myself will go shopping for dinner today.

is not correct because in both places. Myself has nothing in the sentence to reflect back to. It should be:

  • If you have any questions, talk to me.
  • Tony and I will go shopping for dinner today.

Further examples are:

  • Send the meeting minutes to Bill and me (not myself) for approval 
  • Sue and I (not myself) are ready for vacation.

As for when to choose me and when to choose I, a little bit of adjusting and testing will make it easier to make the correct choice. For instance, in the sentences above:

  • If you have any questions, talk to me. You would say “talk to me” not “talk to I” and not “talk to myself,” so it should be “talk to me.”
  • Tony and I will go shopping for dinner today. If you were going by yourself, you would say “I will go shopping,” not “me will go shopping,” so “Tony and I will go shopping” is correct.
  • Send the meeting minutes to Bill and me for approval. Again, if you take Bill out, you would ask people to “send the meeting minutes to me for approval.”
  • Sue and I are ready for vacation. Take Sue out and you would say “I am ready for vacation.”

I hope all this makes it easier for you to use the proper reflexive pronouns when you’re talking about yourself (see what I did there?). Otherwise, I will continue to bang my head against the wall at hearing “myself” used inappropriately.



ENCORE – A.M., P.M., Daylight Saving Time–Could Time Get Any More Confusing?

Sunday, March 9, marks the beginning of daylight saving time throughout most of the broken-clock-300x198United States. Being an Arizona native, I remember when we tried daylight saving time here. It’s tough to put a kid to bed when the sun is bright overhead. Arizona has not observed daylight saving time for many years, but that’s not the intended topic.

You may have noted that in the paragraph above it was daylight saving time NOT daylight savings time. Singular “saving” is correct. The proper way to indicate the time for the different time zones during daylight saving time is:

EDT – Eastern daylight time

CDT – Central daylight time

MDT – Mountain daylight time

PDT – Pacific daylight time

That designation indicates that the specified time is during daylight saving time in the specific time zone. For instance, 3:00 p.m. MDT would be 3:00 in the afternoon in Denver (and other cities in the Mountain time zone) on dates between March 9, 2014, and November 2, 2014 (the date range when daylight saving time is in effect this year). The other part of the year is standard time and would be designated as:

EST – Eastern standard time

CST – Central standard time

MST – Mountain standard time

PST – Pacific standard time

An alternative is to eliminate the specific designation altogether and use these terms year-round:

ET – Eastern time

CT – Central time

MT – Mountain time

PT – Pacific time

While we’re talking about time, the difference between a.m. and p.m. is important. The designation “a.m.” stands for the Latin term ante meridiem and means the time from midnight to noon. The designation “p.m.” stands for the Latin term post meridiem and means the time from noon to midnight. While people seem to grasp that concept, the exact times of midnight and noon seems to confuse them. The time 12:00 a.m. is midnight (it is between midnight and noon) and 12:00 p.m. is noon. Note that 11:59 at night is 11:59 p.m. because it is between noon and midnight. It is always good to confirm whether the a.m. or p.m. is correct so people don’t think an event is 12 hours earlier or later than intended.

To those of you who will “spring forward” this weekend, enjoy it and keep the time straight so others know exactly what time you are talking about.