April Fool's Day or April Fools' Day: Which is Correct?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on December 1, 2023

April Fools' Day is an annual celebration celebrated in many countries the world over. But how is it spelled? That's what we'll find out today. In this article, you'll learn the meaning of this tradition, how it's spelled, and how to use it in a sentence.

If you're just here for the short version, here it is:

  • April Fools' Day and April Fool's Day are both acceptable ways to spell it. It depends on personal choice or the style guide you follow. 

What is April Fools' Day?

April Fools' Day, also known as All Fools' Day, is celebrated on April 1st in various countries around the world. It's customary for people to prank one another in various hilarious ways, such as pranks, fake news and hoaxes, and companies selling fake products.

One theory suggests that the tradition dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian calendar, New Year's Day fell around the end of March or early April, but the new calendar moved New Year's Day to January 1st. Some people either refused to accept the new date or remained unaware of the change and continued celebrating the New Year on the old date. Others would mock these "April fools" by playing pranks on them, sending them on foolish errands, or tricking them in various ways.

The accuracy of this theory is often questioned, but it sure made me chuckle, so I thought I'd share it with you here.

Is it April Fool's Day or April Fools' Day?

There are two common ways to spell this annual custom:

  • April Fool's Day: the singular possessive
  • April Fools' Day: the plural possessive

An apostrophe can do two things:

  • Stand for omitted letters.
    They are → they're
  • Form a possessive noun.
    That is Ben's pencil.

It's that second purpose that we're going to talk about now. The word 'fool' in the name was intended to be a possessive noun to show that the day belongs to a fool... or all the fools.

  • The first spelling suggests that the day is dedicated to each individual fool, while the second would make the day about fools in general.
  • The difference is very subtle, which is why both spellings are widely accepted as long as you remember the apostrophe, which of the two spellings you use doesn't matter much.

That is unless you use the AP Style or Chicago Style guides, which both call for the use of the plural possessive 'April Fools' Day.'

The important thing is to remain consistent. Pick one spelling and stick to it.

Why Isn't it April Fools Day?

A third spelling sometimes comes up: 'April Fools Day' with no apostrophe. In this case, 'fools' is a just plural noun and is not possessive. It's the equivalent of saying 'Day of the April Fools.'

This spelling is grammatically correct, so technically, you couldn't be faulted for using it, but the reality is that it's never spelled that way. With official names of holidays or celebrations, we must respect the original intended spelling and not deviate from it, even if it wouldn't be grammatically incorrect to do so.

That's why this annual custom is always spelled using the possessive apostrophe: 'April Fools' Day' or 'April Fool's Day.'

Should You Capitalize 'April Fools' Day'?

You might have noticed throughout this article that I have been capitalizing the words' April,' 'Fools,' and 'Day.'

  • Regarding capitalization, the rule is pretty straightforward: always capitalize proper nouns.
  • Names of things are considered proper nouns, and April Fools' Day is the name of an annual celebration, so the words should be capitalized when you use them together.

If you use the words separately, that's a different story. The word 'April' is always capitalized because it's a proper noun (it's the name of a month). But 'fool' on its own isn't a proper noun, and neither is 'day.'

Here are some examples of these words used as common nouns:

His decision to invest in that scheme made him look like a fool when it turned out to be a scam.

Forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day is the worst kind of luck.

On the busiest day of the year, Mike's attempt to juggle multiple tasks at once left him feeling like a fool as he fumbled through the hectic schedule.

Both words are always capitalized when used together to form the compound proper noun 'April Fools' Day.'

Example Sentences

Now that we've covered the proper use of apostrophes and when to capitalize the words, let's look at some examples of the term 'April Fools' Day' in sentences.

Here they are:

On April Fools' Day, the office was filled with laughter as colleagues played light-hearted pranks on each other.

Sarah was determined not to be the butt of the joke this year, and carefully planned her elaborate prank for April Fools' Day.

The news article that claimed penguins could now fly was a clever April Fools' Day hoax that fooled many readers.

In the spirit of April Fools' Day, the company announced a fictional product that left customers both amused and bewildered.

In the tradition of April Fools' Day the brothers devised hilarious pranks to play on each other.

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article about this popular celebration. Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • 'April Fools' Day' and 'April Fool's Day' are both correct ways to spell it.
  • Apostrophes make a noun possessive.
  • 'April Fools Day' without an apostrophe is incorrect.
  • It's a proper noun, so the three words should be capitalized when used together.

If you'd like to learn about more national holidays and how to spell and write them, check out our dedicated blog for confusing words. There, you'll find many other articles like this one, where you can learn how to spell holiday names correctly.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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