Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

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

The Quick Answer
Write Mother's Day, Father's Day and Veterans Day. For Manager's/Managers' Meeting or Chief Executive's/Chief Executives' Meeting, it depends what you mean.

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 ruling (there are exceptions of course) is that the apostrophe goes before the s for a single "owner" and after the s for more than one "owner." (Look at the Hot Tip on the right or read apostrophes to show possession.)

However, knowing that ruling doesn't always help you. Sometimes, confusion arises because writers are unsure 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.
Here’s the official take on it:

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 which 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 day 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, it depends on whether the meeting is chaired by one manager or is a meeting for all the managers. For example:
  • Manager's Meeting = a meeting called by one manager. (For example, this could be a meeting at which the manager is the chairman.)
  • Managers' Meeting = a meeting for all the managers; i.e. they all attend it.

Chief Executive's Meeting or Chief Executives' Meeting

Same as above. In other words:
  • Chief Executive's Meeting = a meeting called by the chief executive. (For example, this could be a meeting chaired by the chief executive.)
  • Chief Executives' Meeting = a meeting for all the chief executives
Note

Generally, the Ruling Is:
Before for Singular
After for Plural

To show singular possession – apostrophe before the s:

  • the cat's dinner (one cat)
  • the cat's dinners (one cat)

To show plural possession – apostrophe after the s:

  • the cats' dinner (more than one cat)
  • the cats' dinners (more than one cat)