New Year's Eve or New Years Eve: Which is Correct?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on October 22, 2023

With the holiday season coming up, you'll probably want to send out season's greetings to loved ones. If you're going to do that, you'll want to make sure you're using the right spelling. In this article, you'll learn whether it's correct to write 'New Years Eve' or 'New Year's Eve,' and why.

Let's start off with the short version:

  • The correct spelling is 'New Year's Eve' because the apostrophe indicates possessive.
  • 'New Years Eve' without the apostrophe would indicate there is more than one new year.

What Does 'New Year's Eve' Mean?

Before we dive into correct spellings and uses of apostrophes, let's cover the basics: what does 'New Year's Eve' mean?

For us, the new year begins on January 1st because we follow the Roman calendar. Other cultures have different new year dates, such as the Chinese New Year, which occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20, or in some Buddhist countries, it begins in April.

Regardless of when the new year begins, the day before it is called 'New Year's Eve.' It's considered a holiday in and of itself, just like New Year's Day—the first day of the new year. The word 'eve' is a noun that means "the day or evening before an event or occasion" and can be used in many different contexts.

Here are some examples:

  • Christmas Eve
  • on the eve of his departure
  • Thanksgiving Eve
  • the eve of the party

You'll notice that 'eve' is sometimes capitalized, other times not. We'll cover that later.

People like to celebrate New Year's Eve and stay up until midnight to count down to the new year together.

When to Use 'New Year's Eve'

As I mentioned in the introduction, 'New Year's Eve' is the only correct way to spell it. You need that apostrophe because it denotes possession.

Adding the apostrophe to the word 'year' turns it into a possessive noun. Possessives are used to show possession or denote a relationship between two things. When we say 'New Year's Eve,' we aren't talking about just any eve: we're talking about the eve of the New Year. That's why using the possessive apostrophe is essential to show the relationship between 'New Year' and 'eve.'

It's worth noting that 'New Year's Eve' is often shortened to 'New Year's,' in which case we still need to use the apostrophe because the 'Eve' is implied.

For example:

What are you doing for New Year's?

When to Use 'New Years Eve'

You'll never use 'New Years Eve,' and here's why. Adding an 's' to a noun makes it a plural noun. 'New Years' without an apostrophe suggests that you are talking about more than one year. While this is rare, it is still possible.

For example, you might say:

We spent the last three New Years on vacation in Italy.

As you can see, in the above sentence, the speaker is talking about three New Years. Therefore, it's appropriate to add an 's' but no apostrophe.

However, the addition of the word 'eve' confuses things. If you are talking about more than one New Year, then you are also talking about more than one eve. But 'New Year's Eve' is considered a compound noun, and to pluralize compound nouns, you add the 's' to the "semantic head." That's just a fancy term for the most important word. Here, the semantic head is 'eve,' so the plural of 'New Year's Eve' is 'New Year's Eves'. Notice how we still have the apostrophe after the word' year.'

So to summarize, you can say 'New Years,' but you can't say 'New Years Eve'. You can say 'New Year's Eves' but can't say 'New Years Eves.'

We spent the last three New Years Eves on vacation in Italy.

The family had a tradition of gathering at the same cozy cabin in the mountains for their New Years Eves.

I've spent many New Year's Eves with my partner.

When to Capitalize 'New Year's Eve'

You might have noticed throughout this article that there is some variation on whether or not we capitalize the words' New Year' and 'Eve.'

  • As far as capitalization goes, the rule is pretty straightforward: always capitalize proper nouns.
  • A national holiday is considered a proper noun, and New Year's Eve is considered a proper noun, so all three words should be capitalized when you use them together.

If you use the words separately, that's a different story. The term 'new' on its own isn't a proper noun, and neither is 'year' or 'eve.'

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

She was excited to start her job and explore the opportunities that came with learning new skills.

After completing her studies, she took a gap year to travel and gain valuable life experiences. 

On the eve of their anniversary, he surprised her with a romantic dinner and a heartfelt letter expressing his love.

But whenever any of these words are brought together to form a compound proper noun, you should capitalize them.

For example:

He decided to move to New York to pursue his career in acting.

They attended the Year Festival, an annual event celebrating cultural diversity.

Families around the world come together on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and share a festive meal.

All three words are always capitalized when used together to form the compound proper noun 'New Year's Eve.'

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 'New Year's Eve' in sentences.

Here they are:

On New Year's Eve, friends and family gathered to ring in the coming year with laughter, music, and fireworks.

The city streets were filled with excitement and anticipation as people prepared for the grand celebration on New Year's Eve.

For many, New Year's Eve is a time of reflection on the past and hopeful anticipation for the possibilities that the new year may bring.

As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, the sky erupted with bursts of color as fireworks lit up the night.

Some people prefer quiet introspection on New Year's Eve, choosing to welcome the new year with a sense of personal renewal and resolutions.

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article about this popular holiday.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Always use the apostrophe in 'New Year's Eve'.
  • 'New Years Eve' is never correct.
  • 'New Year's' is a common shortening of 'New Year's Eve'.
  • It's a national holiday, so all three words should be capitalized. 

If you'd like to learn about more national holidays, check out our dedicated blog about 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 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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