Happy New Year (or new year?) 2017!

new_year_2017Happy New Year! … almost.

Starting a new year poses two grammatical challenges: First, how do we refer to the exact time we begin a new year?

The answer: not 12:00 p.m., not 12:00 a.m., not 12 midnight, but simply midnight.

A favorite grammar site, grammarphobia.com, concurs with my primary reference, The Associated Press Stylebook:

We agree that “12 a.m.” and “12 p.m.” are confusing and should be avoided, but one could also argue that “12 noon” and “12 midnight” are redundant. Why not simply say “noon” and “midnight”?

The second challenge relates to when to capitalize new year. Here’s the AP guideline:

Capitalize the days of December 31 (New Year’s Eve) and January 1 (New Year’s or New Year’s Day) and exclamations (Happy New Year!).

But lowercase general references to the coming year:
What will the new year bring?
Have a happy and prosperous new year.
I hope your new year is the better than the one that’s ending.

Here are other greetings and suggested use of capital letters:

Happy holidays  |  Merry Christmas  |  Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah  |  Happy Kwanzaa  |  Season’s greetings  |  Happy birthday  |  Happy Halloween  |  Happy Easter  |  Happy St. Patrick’s Day  |  Happy Fourth of July  |  Happy Thanksgiving

Check here for a complete list of holidays and their capitalization

A final note that applies to the 2016–2017 transition:

The U.S. federal legal holiday is observed on Friday if January 1 falls on a Saturday, on Monday if it falls on a Sunday.

Thank you for following my blog in 2016, and best wishes to you for a peaceful, prosperous and joyful new year. I look forward to further expanding grammar horizons for all of us in 2017.

Kathy, your Ruthless Editor

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)