I hear these used almost interchangeably. To me "for heaven's sake" makes sense grammatically, but is there something I'm missing?

  • For goodness sake! Most people don't bother even writing possessive apostrophe in goodness' there, and no-one ever enunciates it (or pluralises sakes). But we nearly always pluralise the facetiously stereotypical Land sakes! (which I invariably follow up with Lawks-a-mussy! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 25 '13 at 18:58
  • Interesting that no-one has suggested "for heavens' sake" i.e. for the sake of (all the) heavens..... – Michael Dineen May 31 '17 at 22:20
  • Just think which between "for my sake" or "for I sakes" sounds right. – RegDwigнt Jan 6 '19 at 0:56

Nope, it's definitely "For Heaven's Sake", as in "For the sake of Heaven". (Think "For God's Sake", "For Pete's Sake", etc.) The singular "sake" is the one that is the most standard and formal, though you also often see it as "For heaven's sakeS".

"For heaven sakes" is apparently one of the common alternate forms of the expression, but I imagine it is rather colloquial and region-dependent. I don't think I've ever heard it used, personally.

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  • Of those listed in the link you give, "heavens' sake" is also grammatically correct, and theologically sound according to some beliefs. – Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 17:50
  • That's a good point, though only if the trailing apostrophe is added. Otherwise the possessive is lost. – Phire Jan 25 '13 at 18:04
  • Yes, it's listed as one found, but not given in the examples of "grammatically questionable" uses, leaving it unclear whether they find that form questionable or not themselves. – Jon Hanna Jan 25 '13 at 18:06
  • @Jon I submit that "heaven's sake" → "heaven sake" is metanalysis. – RegDwigнt Jan 25 '13 at 22:07

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