Happy New Years or Happy New Year – Which Is Correct?

During the festive period, you may have heard people saying “Happy New Year,” but you may have heard them saying “Happy New Years.” The difference between the two terms is slight but relatively straightforward to grasp. This article explains whether both “Happy New Year” and “Happy New Years” are both correct or not.

Happy New Years or Happy New Year – Which Is Correct?

“Happy New Year”, “Happy New Years”, and “Happy New Year’s, are all terms that you will hear commonly, and each means something slightly different. “Happy New Year” means the year ahead, whilst “Happy New Years” refers to your future years. “Happy New Year’s” means “Happy New Year’s eve/day.”

Happy New Years or Happy New Year

The phrases “ Happy New Year” and “Happy New Years” are sentence fragments for more complete sentences. They are both understood and are a standard part of the English language in many parts of the world.

Due to the context of the phrase, it is far more likely that you will hear it rather than read it. People often use the phrases interchangeably, yet the recipient does not always interpret them differently

It is more common in some places than others to use “Happy New Years” or “Year’s”, but it is the kind of phrase in which the difference between it and “Happy New Year” is not crucial to the message being conveyed, so the recipient takes it that the speaker wants them to have a “Happy New Year period” or a “Happy New Year’s Eve/Day.”

Many native speakers do not consciously think about the difference and use the two terms interchangeably, without much regard to the difference.

However, if you were to examine the difference, the three options essentially represent a slightly different idea.

For example – The sentences could take on these meanings

  • I hope you have a Happy New Year – I hope you enjoy the upcoming year
  • I hope you have Happy New Years – To enjoy your future years (in plural)
  • I hope you have a Happy New Year’s – I hope you enjoy new year’s eve/day/ or the days around the new year.

Obviously, when someone is speaking, it is not possible to differentiate between the second two options.

Happy New Years

“Happy New Years” is a phrase you hear around the new year period for people to wish positivity and happiness to each other. However, including the “s” can confuse some people, although it is not uncommon to hear it in spoken English in certain parts of the world.

In spoken English, the “s” at the end of “year” could be the same as the “s” in “New Year’s Eve”, or it could refer to a person’s future years.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to identify this difference unless you see the phrase written because apostrophes cannot be identified in speech.

For example

  1. Happy New Years – I hope you enjoy the years ahead of you
  2. I hope you have a Happy New Years – I hope you enjoy the time around the new year. (Technically, number 2  is incorrect because of the article “a” with “years”, however, the phrase refers to the period around the new year rather than the eve/day.)

Happy New Year

“Happy New Year” is the most common way of telling someone you want them to enjoy New Year or the period itself. People use the phrase not just on New Year’s Eve and Day but also on the days surrounding them.

It is a sentence fragment of more extended versions such as:

  • I hope you enjoy the upcoming year
  • I hope you have a good year
  • I hope you have a Happy New Year’s Eve/Day
  • I hope you enjoy the New Year period

Used in a sentence, it would look like:

  1. Happy New Year to you and your family.
  2. I am just calling to wish you all a Happy New Year.
  3. Thanks for your effort this year, everyone and a big Happy New Year to all of you!
  4. My brother didn’t even call to wish me a Happy New Year! It’s so typical of him.
  5. I hope you all had a Happy New Year; now it’s time to get back to work!

Happy New Year’s

You will hear people saying “Happy New Year’s” around the new year period, or you may see it written on cards and be confused about what it means.

First of all, not much deliberation goes into it on the part of the speaker, and many speakers use “Happy New Year’s” and “Happy New Year” interchangeably.

However, in writing, the apostrophe is included because it means

  • New Years’ Eve
  • New Year’s Day
  • New Year’s period

In these three examples, the “Eve”, “Day”, and “period” are possessives of the “New Year”, so the apostrophe is required.

“Happy New Year’s” is a shortened way of saying something like:

  • I hope you have a good New Year’s Eve
  • I hope you enjoy New Year’s Day
  • I hope you enjoy the New Year’s period

The phrase often stands alone and is what people say to each other at the strike of midnight or on New Year’s Day.

However, this is how “Happy New Year’s” would look in a complete sentence:

  1. Happy New Year’s to you and your family.
  2. I hope you all have a really Happy New Year’s.
  3. I won’t see you until we return to work in January, but Happy New Year’s to you.
  4. Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year’s.

Which Is Used the Most?

The Google Ngram Viewer shows that “Happy New Year” is far more frequent than “Happy New Years” or “Happy New Year’s”, although its frequency did dip considerably between 1970 and 2000.

Happy New Years or Happy New Year or Happy New Year's usage

The UK version of the Ngram shows that between 1900 and 1970, “Happy New Years” and “Happy New Year’s” had more popularity in the UK than in the US, where they have never really been common.

Happy New Years or Happy New Year or Happy New Year's UK
Happy New Years or Happy New Year or Happy New Year's US

Another thing to consider is the Ngram Viewer shows the frequency in written English, and “Happy New Year” or “years” is a term that is probably spoken more than it is written, so gaining an accurate insight into the exact use is challenging.

Final Thoughts

“Happy New Year” and “Happy New Years” are both terms you will hear or read, the second more so in the UK. Whilst to some, “Happy New Years” may seem alien, it is entirely normal to others. The difference is negligible in spoken English and is simply a colloquial variation.