It must be nearly Father’s Day….

… because the blog post I wrote three years ago is once more showing up in Google searches! Just to add: no, there’s still no definitive answer, but then again, I’m a descriptivist not a prescriptivist, so I’m more interested in knowing what language users actually write* rather than what they should write. That said, according to one comment on the blog a few months ago, “The New Oxford Style Manual says that it is Father’s Day (capital letter, apostrophe before the s).” So there you have it.

One assumption I have been making, though, is that everyone has one father — but with the rapid expansion of marriage equality laws in the States in the last year, we might want to make a logical exception for children with two dads. Fathers’ Day would make perfect sense in that context, I suppose.

* It strikes me that this is one of very few linguistic distinctions, along with capitalization, that is not possible in speech. Unless, of course, you are the incomparable Victor Borge.

Happy Father’s Day for Sunday, dear readers.

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Delaware English Language Institution, as well as a textbook author, consultant, and speaker. Nigel holds a PhD from the University of Delaware, a master's in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Cambridge University. He is currently director of Project DELITE, a federal grant providing ESL certification to Delaware teachers. He also brews beer.

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