Skip to Content

Valentine’s Day Spelling and Apostrophe Fun

How do you spell Valentine’s Day? Is the February 14 holiday written: “Valentines Day” with no apostrophe? Or is it “Valentimes Day” with an “m?” What about “valentine’s day” with no capitalization? How about paper or human valentines? It’s a surprisingly hard set of words to spell and punctuate. Let’s dive in to find out the correct Valentine’s Day spelling now!

As background, my name is Lillie, and I’ve been an English teacher for nearly two decades. I delight in hand-drawing cartoons and lessons to help spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and ELA concepts stick in the brain — from “Whose vs. Who’s” to “Is Is a Verb?” Yet, despite my years of experience and training, the Valentine’s Day question is tricky even for me. Here’s why.

Valentine's Day spelling
Valentine’s Day spelling is tricky!

Apostrophe or No?

The correct spelling of the 2/14 holiday is: Valentine’s Day — with an apostrophe. Why? Apostrophes are used for possession (ownership, as with the Father’s Day apostrophe) and contractions (putting two words together, like you are = you’re).

With regards to the heart-filled holiday, Valentine’s Day is the festival belonging to Saint Valentine, the patron saint of love, so we use an apostrophe to signify that ownership. The apostrophe punctuation of St. Patrick’s Day follows a similar rule.

Valentines With No Apostrophe

This is what makes things confusing: If you’re talking about physical valentines (like paper hearts that say “You are my sweetheart!”), there is NO apostrophe. How come? The reason is that an “s” with no apostrophe signifies pluralization: more than one of something.

The same thing goes for your sweethearts who you call your “valentines” — people who get your affection and gifts during the holiday: there is no apostrophe in that word because it’s just pluralization, not possession. For example, if we had more than one Easter egg drawing, we would say “drawings,” not “drawing’s.”

Here’s an example of all three apostrophe rules, combined into a sentence: “On Valentine’s Day, the loving octopus spent eight heart-shaped paper valentines to all of her beloved valentines!”

How do you spell Valentine's Day?
How do you spell Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day Capitalization

As we learned in our “Happy New Year” tutorial, the name of a holiday is a proper noun, and thus its first letters are capitalized. The word “happy” is only capitalized at the start of a sentence. For example, you would write, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” with a capital “H,” but you’d say, “I hope you’re having a happy Valentine’s Day!” with a lower-case “h” since “happy” is in the middle of the sentence.

Now, the common noun, “valentine,” referring to the cards or beloved person, is traditionally written with a lower-case “v.” However, the capitalization of the latter (the person) has some wiggle room. Here’s why..

Be My Valentine

From my research and experience, there is some controversy about whether the “v” in, “Will you be my valentine?” should be capitalized or not, because it is referring to a person and a name. While the lower-case spelling, “valentine,” is most common to refer to one’s beloved, as an English teacher, I would make the call that “Will you be my Valentine?” (capitalized) could also be acceptable.

Further, as an artist, the sentence “Be my Valentine!” looks more balanced when both the “B” and “V” are capitalized and tall. If you search online for images on cards, you’ll see the full range of upper and lower case, so I’m not alone in suggesting there’s some artistic license allowed in this particular sentence’s capitalization.

Valentine Hearts and Cards

Another complicated twist: If you’re writing, “I’m making Valentine’s Day cards,” then shorten it to, “Valentine’s cards,” you keep the apostrophe and capitalized “V” because you’re referring to the proper noun holiday. However, you can use the lower case singular to describe “valentine hearts” or “valentine cards.” Sheesh!

For more bizarre capitalization rules in the English language, check out my other article which answers the question, “Do you capitalize seasons?”

VIDEO: Valentine’s Day Capitalization and Punctuation

See a time-lapse video of my drawing process for this lesson.

Valentines or Valentimes Day?

It is common for people to accidentally write “Happy Valentimes Day” with an “m” instead of “n,” but that is incorrect. “Valentimes” is a misspelled, made-up word that doesn’t exist — like greatful, revelant, incase, noone, and everytime. Don’t use it!

Valentine’s Day Spelling, in Sum

I hope this lesson answering “How do you spell Valentine’s Day?” has been useful, as well as enjoyable. What else would you like me to illustrate and explain? Do share…

Want a mathematical version of Valentine’s Day cards? Check out this Pi Day activity: making Pi-lentines! For a battle for the best Queen of Hearts drawing, click that link.