Apostrophes: Mother's Day, Father's Day, Veterans Day,
Manager's/Managers' Meeting, Chief Executive's/Executives' Meeting

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Where does the apostrophe go?

Write the following:
  • Mother's Day (apostrophe before the s)
  • Father's Day (apostrophe before the s)
  • Veterans Day (no apostrophe)
  • Manager's Meeting (for one manager) but Managers' Meeting (for more than one)
  • Chief Executive's Meeting (for one chief executive) but Chief Executives' Meeting (for more than one)
apostrophe placement for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Veterans Day

Mother's/Mothers' Day, Father's/Fathers' Day, Veteran's/Veterans' Day, Manager's/Managers' Meeting, Chief Executive's/Chief Executives' Meeting

Is it Mothers' Day or Mother's Day? Does the apostrophe go before the s or after it?

The general rule for apostrophe placement is as follows:
General Rule

The apostrophe goes before the "s" for a single owner but after the "s" for more than one owner.
  • the cat's dinner (the owner of the dinner is one cat)
  • the cat's dinners (the owner of the dinners is one cat)
  • the cats' dinner (the owner of the dinner is more than one cat)
  • the cats' dinners (the owner of the dinners is more than one cat)
There are some exceptions to this general ruling, but this suffices for now.
Read more about using apostrophes to show possession.

But, How Many "Owners" Are There?

Even though this rule seems straightforward, we still might have a problem. Sometimes, it's unclear whether the "owner" is singular or plural. This happens most commonly with the following terms:
  • Mother's/Mothers' Day
  • Father's/Fathers' Day
  • Veteran's/Veterans' Day
  • Manager's/Managers' Meeting
  • Chief Executive's/Chief Executives' Meeting.

The Official Guidance

Here's the official guidance on the apostrophe placement for the terms above:

Mother's Day or Mothers' Day

Mother's Day is the official name of the holiday. It is for each family to celebrate its mother. Of course, grammatically speaking, it could be Mothers' Day (i.e., a day to celebrate all the mothers in the world). However, Mother's Day is the version used in the law that made the day an official holiday in the US, and this is used as a precedent.

Father's Day or Fathers' Day

Similar to above. The term Father's Day was used by US Congress in 1913 during the process to establish the day as an official holiday. This is now the precedent.

Veterans Day, Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day

Veterans Day (no possessive apostrophe) is the official name of the holiday. Some claim it is a day for veterans as opposed to a day belonging to the veterans, and this is the reason the possessive apostrophe is removed. (This is not a good reason to omit an apostrophe, as an apostrophe can be used to show a for (it's called the genitive case as opposed to the possessive case). Nevertheless, the official name is Veterans Day.

(In the UK, there is a Childrens Minister. This is another attempt to draw a distinction between the genitive case and the possessive case by omitting the apostrophe.)

Manager's Meeting or Managers' Meeting

With terms like Manager's/Managers' Meeting, apostrophe placement depends on whether the meeting is for one manager or several managers. For example:
  • Manager's Meeting = a meeting led by or on behalf of one manager
  • (This could be a meeting led by the head manager, i.e., one person.)
  • Managers' Meeting = a meeting for several managers
  • (This could be a meeting for all the managers.)

Chief Executive's Meeting or Chief Executives' Meeting

Just as above, apostrophe placement depends on whether the meeting is for one chief executive or several. For example:
  • Chief Executive's Meeting = a meeting called by the chief executive.
  • (This could be a meeting chaired by the CEO, i.e., one person.)
  • Chief Executives' Meeting = a meeting for several chief executives
  • (This could be a meeting for all the chief executives.)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

How do you write master's degree and bachelor's degree? Apostrophes to show possession The apostrophe error with plurals Apostrophes in time (temporal) expressions Apostrophes replace letters Apostrophes to show the plural of abbreviations