Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If I want to form the plural of “Valentine’s” as a short form of “Saint Valentine’s Day” – where do I put the apostrophe(s)? Is it possible at all?

I believe that Valentines’, although the normal plural form of a genitive ending in “s”, would be wrong here since that would mean “the day of the people who are called Valentine”. So what’s right? Valentine’s’ ?

Here’s an example of where I’d use this form:

She had spent so many Valentine’s’ alone that she now loathed the very mention of this day.

– Of course I could simply write it out … but where’s the fun in that?

share|improve this question
3  
If you can’t bring yourself to write “so many Valentine’s days”, just say “so many Valentines”. Anything else will look terrible. –  tchrist Dec 7 '12 at 18:37
1  
I think it would be pretty unusual to use Valentines to mean the actual day[s] - the stand-alone form normally refers to Valentine cards. But if OP wants to "discard" both words ("card" and "day"), it seems to me there's nothing left to apostrophise anyway, so multiple Valentine's Days would have to be Valentines, just as they would be if they were multiple cards. –  FumbleFingers Dec 7 '12 at 18:37
1  
@FumbleFingers I think you’re confusing that: the card is simply called a “Valentine” (as is the person you’d send it to). As for the rest of the comment: why not make it an answer? (And if you think the short form is too uncommon, what about “New Year’s”?) –  Konrad Rudolph Dec 7 '12 at 18:39
    
@Konrad: I don't think I'm confusing anything. On the odd occasions when the single word is used to refer to the day itself it would obviously be "I didn't get many cards this Valentine's", but if you wanted to "pluralise" the last word the only credible option is to simply discard the apostrophe. I didn't post it as an answer because to be honest I think the question is both General Reference and Too Localised. –  FumbleFingers Dec 7 '12 at 18:56
1  
@FumbleFingers Wait, “too localised” is a legitimate close reason here on English.SE? Oh, there go all the [single-word-request]s. –  Konrad Rudolph Dec 7 '12 at 19:27
show 1 more comment

2 Answers

In my experience, “Valentine’s” is less common than “Valentine’s Day” — usually only the “St.” is dropped1 — so I think the usual phrasing would be:

She had spent so many Valentine’s Days alone that she now loathed the very mention of this day.

Another option, if you really want to use “Valentine’s” alone (without “Day”), is to treat it as a proper noun, and write:

She had spent Valentine’s alone so many times that she now loathed the very mention of this day.

(Compare “She had spent Christmas alone so many times […]”.)


  1. For example, compare the Google Books hits for "from Valentine's to" to those for "from Valentine's Day to".
share|improve this answer
    
I’ve always thought that Americans, or at least Hallmark, drop the “Saint” part because they don’t wish to appear Catholic. –  tchrist Dec 7 '12 at 18:50
    
The Google links actually show a relation of 1:3 in frequency, not too big a difference – but I’m not sure how much we can read into that anyway. I quite like the answer. –  Konrad Rudolph Dec 7 '12 at 18:55
1  
@tchrist: That may be why people started dropping it -- I really don't know -- but nowadays the reason that people continue to drop it is, simply, that everyone drops it. Today, including the "Saint" doesn't make one sound Catholic, it makes one sound formal, or strange. It would be like referring to Halloween as "All Hallows' Eve" rather than "Halloween". –  ruakh Dec 7 '12 at 18:55
    
@KonradRudolph: Oops, I messed up the links. I meant to link to Google Books, which has few enough examples that you can compare them more meaningfully. I'll fix that. –  ruakh Dec 7 '12 at 18:57
1  
I'm afraid I have to downvote this one, because it simply sidesteps OP's question by suggesting a rephrasing that avoids referencing "Valentine's Days" as a "single-word plural". It's perfectly possible to say "She had spent so many Christmases alone...", for example. –  FumbleFingers Dec 7 '12 at 18:59
show 6 more comments

In the expression, Saint Valentine's Day, "day" is the noun that is being discussed. Therefore that is the word that is pluralized. I'm not going to get into the whole "dropping the Saint" argument since that isn't anything to do with the OP's question.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.