Is It 'Happy New Year' or 'Happy New Years'? NYE Greeting Explained

Whether it is simply with a significant other or at a packed party, New Year's Eve is always an occasion to celebrate.

And when the clock strikes 12, tradition dictates we toast the new year with short messages to friends and family.

However, punctuation is important and some people can be left agonizing over where to place the apostrophe on New Year's Eve.

Read on to learn the nitty-gritty on correct NYE grammar.

When To Use "New Year's"

The “New Year” refers to December 31
The “New Year” refers to December 31 (i.e., New Year’s Eve) and January 1 (i.e., New Year’s Day). Happy/Getty Images

The apostrophe-S in "New Year's" is required when discussing things belonging to NYE or January 1, such as party plans or resolutions made.

This is because apostrophes are the way the English language indicates either possession or something belongs to another.

As a result, the following three examples are all correct applications of the apostrophe in "New Year's".

  • New Year's Eve: December 31 is the eve of 2022.
  • New Year's Day: January 1 the first day of 2022.
  • New Year's resolution: A stated goal to aim for in the New Year.

There is in each example a clear relationship between the New Year and the noun: the eve, the day itself and the resolution.

This is because they are all specifically related to the New Year, meaning "New Year's" becomes the modifier for each noun.

It is consequently correct to say: "We are throwing a New Year's party" and "I've made a list of New Year's resolutions."

When To Use "New Year"

New Year
When referring to the holiday that falls on December 31 and January 1, you’ll need to capitalize the first letters of “New” and “Year”: oatawa/Getty Images

From midnight on December 31 and for a few succeeding days, people say "Happy New Year!"

"New Year" is also correctly used with no possessive apostrophe-S when discussing the year as a whole.

In contrast, "New Year's" refers to one specific night, day, and one resolution.

But "new year" usually comes up when people are talking generally about the year, often before it has begun or while it is still early in the year.

This means the following examples are the correct use of "new year."

  • December is a very busy period for me, so we should get dinner early in the new year.
  • Now it is the new year, I have much more free time to socialize.
  • Happy New Year to you all!

Note, in the above examples, "New Year" is capitalized when the holiday or January 1 is being discussed, but not when the new year as a timeframe is being referenced.

When To Use "New Years"

Happy New Year
Apostrophes are the way the English language shows possession or that something belongs to another thing bernardbodo/Getty Images

New Year's marks the departure of one year and the dawn of another 12 months, meaning there are two years involved, for example 2021 and 2022, but only the latter is new.

As a result, there is logically no occasion to exclaim "Happy New Years", as the last word is plural and only one year occurs at any time.

However, it remains grammatically correct to say "new years" in the plural, as is the case in the following example.

  • New years are traditionally a time for reflection, celebration, and resolving to do things a little differently.

The subject here is multiple new years, or every single year, at least when it starts.

Note how the above example could also be rephrased to focus on the New Year's holiday: "New Year's always offers time for reflecting, celebrating, and resolving to do things differently."

This second version places the emphasis on the event of NYE, instead of every new year, which is more common.

When people talk about a celebration over multiple years, the annual occasion every December 31, or a generalization about the new year, the term of choice is generally "New Year's."

This is because "New Year's" is these days a common shorthand for "New Year's Eve," and the name of the holiday functions as an adjective.

This is reflected in the following examples.

  • Every New Year's I go to a party and we watch the fireworks at midnight.
  • All New Year's parties in clubs are overrated compared to spending them at home.

Hopefully that's cleared it up for you - Happy New Year!