So, I’m writing this as it is Mother’s (or maybe Mothers’) Day today, and I was wondering what would be a correct way to write that.

Should the apostrophe come be between the r and the s, or after the s?

And are the following capitalization correct?

Happy Mother’s (or Mothers’) Day!


I wish you a Happy Mother’s (again, maybe Mothers’) Day!

and also

I sure spent a nice Mother’s (maybe Mothers’) Day with my momma!

  • 4
    It depends if Heather has two mommies.
    – Sam
    May 8, 2011 at 18:49
  • 1
    I used "happy mother's day" till now. by the way, your mother will understand what you want to say in all ways.
    – Gigili
    May 8, 2011 at 18:55
  • In Britain it is called Mothering Sunday, and is always on the fourth Sunday in Lent - which in 2016 is on the 6th March. (By coincidence that day would also have been my own mother's 100th birthday, had she been alive - she died in 1978). Traditionally it was a day which young girls living away as domestic servants were allowed to take off to go and visit their mothers.
    – WS2
    Feb 22, 2016 at 19:42

7 Answers 7


I just stumbled upon this picture (from William Haefeli) which illustrates:

  • the common usage of "Mother's Day" (ie, the day of your Mother, or anyone's Mother, as in one Mom)
  • the... other case ;)

Mothers' day


Day definitely ought to be capitalised, because it's an element of the name of the official holiday. Mothers' makes more sense to me (especially in the context of, say, Children's Day), but the official name of the holiday as specified by the founder Anna Jarvis is Mother's Day:

…each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.

But she died over 62 years ago, so I'm using Mothers', because, blast it, I respect the love and kindness and dedication of good mothers everywhere, whether they're mine or not.


We write it as "Mother's Day" because it was trademarked that way by the holiday's founder. It was also signed into legislature as an official holiday with the apostrophe before the 's'. People will argue endlessly about the correct grammatical usage of the apostrophe depending on the context, but officially, it is always "Mother's Day". You will never see a card in a Hallmark store writing the holiday name any other way.

As for the capitalization questions, all are correct except the second one. "Happy" should not be capitalized before "Mother's Day".

  • Good answer. Would be nice to provide citation(s) to support your assertions. (I think Wikipedia would suffice; it corroborates your answer and provides further references for those who don't trust Wikipedia alone.)
    – John Y
    May 13, 2013 at 2:04

It's "Happy Mother's Day", as also stated in the OALD. Also the NOAD confirms (I can't link this, it's in my computer, but I can take a screenshot if you want).

And:enter image description here

See here for better view.

It should be capitalised because it's the name of a specific day. Unlike "Happy Birthday" which can be capitalised ("Happy Birthday, John!") or not ("It was a really happy birthday!"), this is a general festivity so it should be capitalised.

  • 2
    Ngram is case-sensitive, so you should capitalize these search terms for many more hits, like this. Also, putting a link to your Ngram in the body of your question lets users check out a larger version. May 8, 2011 at 20:45
  • @CAllithumpian: I added it :) and +1, I didn't know about the case sensitivity, I'll keep it in mind from now on.
    – Alenanno
    May 8, 2011 at 20:54
  • 1
    @CAllithumpian, indeed, the curves look a LOT different with capitalisation! see here
    – teylyn
    May 8, 2011 at 21:19

I always write it as Mothers' Day but originally it was Mothering Sunday so the problem didn't exist. I think the general secularisation of the day lead to the more modern nomenclature.


If you're referring to one Mother, it is Mother's.

If you're referring to many Mothers, it is Mothers'.

After that the decision is a philosophical one, up to you!


Since I received (and returned) 6 emails from 6 other mothers wishing me a Happy Mothers' Day, I prefer to include all of them (and all mothers) by using Mothers' (the plural possessive).

  • Hi Jane, welcome to ELU! This preference of style has already been suggested by other users on this question. However, your answer stands alone if you can cite something supporting such usage. Thanks!
    – Erich
    May 10, 2015 at 23:17

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