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Presidents vs Presidents’ Day

Is it “Presidents” Day or “Presidents'” Day?

It’s both. The holiday actually celebrates the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the 1st and the 16th president of the US, respectively. Washington’s birthday is February 22. Lincoln’s birthday is February 12.

Because the holiday celebrates two presidents, Presidents’ Day (with an s and an apostrophe) is correct. The Gregg Reference Manual recommends that version.

The Associated Press Stylebook, uses Presidents Day–with no apostrophe. Most of the catalogs and newspaper advertisements featuring sales on that day are using the AP version.

How can the AP version be correct? Because sometimes we use a word as an adjective–not a possessive form. For example, many people can name a Beatles song–not a Beatles’ song.

For more about possessive forms, read this post.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.