As we gear up for the holiday season, there are lots of things to keep in mind—you know, making sure the ornaments on the tree are hung evenly, hiding your presents in a good enough spot where your kids don’t find them…oh yeah, and proper grammar for your Christmas cards.
You might chuckle at the latter, but it’s really no laughing matter. There’s one common mistake that pops up on Christmas cards each and every year—one that you might not even realize you’re doing.
You know who does realize you’re doing it? Heather Nianouris, a former English teacher. The woman was so upset with constantly seeing this mistake on cards that she made a now-viral Facebook live video, which racked up millions of views, to explain the mistake, why it’s wrong, and how to do it instead.
“Usually around Christmastime, I always start to notice misplaced apostrophes,” she said. “People will use apostrophes to pluralize stuff.”
You probably know where this is heading then. You guessed it: When families sign their last names.
We see it all the time: “Love, the Smith’s” or “With Love, the Johnson’s.” But this use of the apostrophe? Is totally and completely 100 percent wrong.
There is no need for that apostrophe, and it’s a simple reason why: Apostrophes make something possessive. If you were saying “Love, the Smith’s cat” or “The party is at the Johnson’s house,” that would make sense. But when you’re just signing your family’s last time, it should be “Love, the Smiths” or “Love, the Johnsons.” No apostrophe needed.
If you have an S on the end of your last name, yes, this does get trickier. But no, it does not mean you should just add an apostrophe willy nilly. In this case, you’d add an “es.” So if your last name is Curtis, as Hannah explains, it would be “Love, the Curtises.”
“People spend all of this time getting the perfect outfits together and getting the best shot and finding the right card,” she said. “Then I look and there is a random apostrophe.”
Her hilarious video about this common Christmas card mistake is a must-watch—and her series of grammar videos in general will not only make you laugh but will make you learn a thing or two about proper syntax.
While we’re on the subject of Christmastime grammar errors, this isn’t the only one that occurs. Another one that really presses our buttons? When people write “Seasons Greetings.” This is the opposite of being apostrophe happy—in this case, we need the apostrophe! “Season’s Greetings” is correct.
And if you’re just trying to write a simple greeting for the holiday, go with “Wishing you a merry Christmas” over “Wishing you a Merry Christmas.” If you’re just writing “Merry Christmas!” sure, you capitalize that M to your heart’s content, as it starts a new sentence. But in the middle of a sentence, it’s lowercase.
And what about if you’re wishing someone well into the next year? It’s “Happy New Year!”—quit it with that random S that sometimes sneaks in there (i.e., “Happy New Year’s” or “Happy New Years). The only time those are correct is when you’re referring to New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
Well now that we’ve sucked all the fun out of writing Christmas cards, it’s time to start brainstorming for what you want your picture to look like this year!
Do you usually send Christmas cards? Did you know about this common apostrophe debacle? What are your thoughts on proper grammar for Christmas cards?