Champagne, roses, and…a discussion of capitalization and punctuation rules? Maybe it’s not the most romantic of topics, but you’ll soon be discussing this holiday in class, and you’ll want to have the rules straight!
When we write the holiday, we have to use capital letters.
- My favorite holiday is Valentine’s Day.
This could be shortened in casual speech, when it’s clear we’re referring to the day.
- What are you doing for Valentine’s (Day)?
When we’re referring to a gift, greeting, or person, we don’t use capital letters.
- I bought her a valentine present; I hope she’ll like it.
- I got a valentine card from him today.
- Be my valentine.
It is common to hear “valentine’s” used in place of “valentine” (e.g., I got a valentine’s card from him today). I think this is because people are using the holiday name, either on purpose or by accident. If you’re using the holiday name, write it as “Valentine’s,” with or without the word “Day” (e.g., I got a Valentine’s [Day] card from him today). Personally, I would stick to “valentine card.”
When we write the holiday, we must use “apostrophe s.”
- Happy Valentine’s Day!
Is there a case where there is an “s” with no apostrophe? Yes, but only if we’re referring to a plural noun, usually “cards.”
- How many valentines did you get? (refers to valentine cards)
- Never use “Happy Valentines Day” or “valentines cards.”
Now you’re ready for all the fun Valentine’s Day activities that you can do with your students! ESL Library has got some amazing resources, including this new Valentine’s Day poster of love idioms. You should also check out our Valentine’s Day lessons and guest blogger Shelly Terrell’s 14+ Activities & Resources for Celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all,
Sources: Merriam‑Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., and Oxford Canadian dictionary of Current English.