Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Should you send ‘season’s greetings’ or ‘seasons greetings’?

While preparing your holiday cards, you may be stumped by a recurring December dilemma: should you write “season’s greetings” or “seasons’ greetings”? Or “seasons greetings,” with no apostrophe at all?

The expression “season’s greetings” is an expression of “genitive case” — also known as possessive — in which one noun is the “possessor” of another noun.

Genitive case can be used to express an attribute. For example, a reference to “Sophia’s arrival” does not indicate that she “possesses” an arrival; “arrival” names an action that Sophia is taking. That’s a particular kind of genitive case that grammarians call “subjective genitive.” The word in the genitive case (Sophia’s) performs an action that the “possessed” word names (Sophia arrives). The subject is Sophia’s arrival.

In contrast, a construction called “objective genitive” is composed of a genitive that modifies a noun that performs an inferred action upon the genitive modifier: The Columbia Guide to Standard American English offers “your father’s illness” (the illness acted upon your father) and “his tormentors” (referring to people who tormented him).

The phrase “season’s greetings” can be considered a descriptive genitive or an objective genitive. When Belinda says “season’s greetings,” the greetings are hers; they do not belong to the season. She is sending greetings for the season or greeting people in the spirit of the season. But she is speaking of only one season; offering “seasons’ greetings” would indicate that she is referring to two or more seasons, which presumably is not Belinda’s intention.

So at the end of this year you can confidently offer clients, colleagues, business associates, relatives and friends “greetings for the season” — or “season’s greetings” (with the apostrophe between the “n” and the “s”).

If you’re still hesitant about writing “season’s greetings” because people don’t really say that to one another, you can always honor specific traditions instead. Wish a “merry Christmas” to Christians, “happy Hanukkah” (or Chanukah) to people of the Jewish faith, “happy Kwanzaa” or “joyous Kwanzaa” to African-American friends, and “eid mubarak” (which literally means “blessed festivities”) to Muslims.

You might also wish someone a “happy new year,” but don’t say “happy new years” (plural) unless you’re referring to more than one year at a time (the holiday is named in possessive form: New Year’s Day).

We at EditPros favor “happy holidays” because most people celebrate more than one holiday this time of year — an ethnic or religious holiday in addition to the advent of the new calendar year.
Whichever greeting you choose, find a comfortable pen, limber your wrist, and get started. The holidays are just about here.

— Marti Childs and Jeff March are co-owners of EditPros LLC (www.editpros.com) of Davis, and authors of “Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? – Volume 1.”

Jeff March and Marti Childs

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • ColorfulClayJanuary 06, 2012 - 9:23 am

    Jeff and Marti-- Thanks for coming and talking to the Davis Sunrise Rotary Club. Good luck with your new book, “Where have all the Pop Stars gone?” Great meeting you today. I enjoy your column and always learn something from it. A belated Season's Greetings and a timely Happy Epiphany. --Clay Brandow (a.k.a. colorful.wordpress.com)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

     
    Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

    Going green at church, school, everywhere

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    UCD to host Global Health Day event

    By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

    Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 3 Comments

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    ‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Online K-12 school holds info night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Schwenger lawn signs available

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Volunteers needed for Grad Night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Davis grad makes rain collection a business

    By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    A few spots left on history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Event to provide nature scholarship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Students have new options on leasing front

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Groups join for a day of service

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Food for the hungry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

    .

    Forum

    Dad makes mom look bad

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    More tax money? Answer the question

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

     
    UCD IS responsible for students

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    In search of great ideas

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Please keep the nursery open

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Early help is a great investment

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    ‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Acacia at Huntington Square

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Yolo FCU

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Suzanne Kimmel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Patricia Echevarria

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Andrew Dowling

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Sheryl Patterson

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Don Guthrie

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Heather Barnes

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Julie Partain & Dick Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Willowbank Park

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tim Harrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Team Traverso

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Lori Prizmich

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Open House Map

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    F1rst Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20