holiday or holidays?

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Magg, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Hi all,

    I've heard both terms and I don't know which is suitable when I make sentences containing those words.

    What would be the difference between "I'm on holiday" and "I'm on holidays", if any?
  2. Masood

    Masood Senior Member

    Leicester, England
    British English
    'I'm on holiday' está bien escrito. 'I'm on holidays' no me suena bien. Los EEUU utilizarían la palabra 'vacation' en lugar de 'holiday'. Días especiales [cuando nadie tiene que ir al trabajo], en el Reino Unido (al menos) se llaman 'Public Holidays'.
  3. Sandra Senior Member

    Mexico - Spanish
    I know this one :D

    In England - Holiday (singular). Is very tempting to use Holidays as its equivalent in Spanish, Vacaciones, is plural.

    In the USA - Vacation, same case, singular.

    Therefore, your sentence will be "I am on Holiday"

    Masood, just saw your answer, if I've seen it earlier I would have written: "same as Masood's"!!! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2014
  4. LadyBlakeney

    LadyBlakeney Senior Member

    Masood, is the expression "Bank Holidays" no longer in use in the UK?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  5. Masood

    Masood Senior Member

    Leicester, England
    British English
    On the contrary, LadyB, they're still widely referred to as 'bank holidays'.
  6. vendetta Member

    Spain, Spanish & Catalan
    But is it ALWAYS singular in England?
    For example, which of the following is correct?

    1 - I will spend my summer holiday in Cornwall.
    2 - I will spend my summer holidays in Cornwall.

  7. 3pebbles Senior Member

    English England
    Hi vendetta,
    Your first sentence is correct, however you could say "I spend (all) my summer holidays in Cornwall", meaning it's a habitual action, or even "I spend all my summers in Cornwall"
    hope that helps
  8. alunita Member

    Spanish (Europe)
    tal vez podáis ayudarme acerca del uso de las palabras 'holiday' y 'holidays'. No distingo cuando se usa en singular y cuando en plural.
    Gracias de antemano.
  9. CaliGirl80 Senior Member

    Spanish / US-English
    Holiday, se usa cuando vas a decir una fecha en particular, por ejemplo el día de la independencia.

    The 4th of July is a holiday.
    Friday is a holiday, because it's President's Day.

    Holidays, se usa cuando se habla de temporadas (Ej. navidad), o cuando estas hablando de mas de un día.

    The holidays are coming soon!
  10. zumac Senior Member

    Mexico City
    USA: English & Spanish
    The British use the term holiday instead of vacation. They would say: "I'm going on a two week holiday to Cuba."

    In this case, a singular usage of holiday covers more than one day.

  11. alunita Member

    Spanish (Europe)
    Entonces, si se usa holiday para un período vacacional de más de un día, al igual que holidays, ¿Cómo distinguirlas?
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  12. zumac Senior Member

    Mexico City
    USA: English & Spanish
    Let me repeat that "holiday" is used in British English, and is the equivalent of "vacation" in American English. There is no time limit set to either term.

    In American English, holidays covers more than one day, and is implicit in the conversation as relating to Easter Holidays, Christmas Holidays, etc.

    In American English, when you say "holiday" you are referring to one day in particular, like the Fourth of July. In British English, they also use the term holiday when referring to a particular day.

  13. Perrito

    Perrito Senior Member

    Estats Units
    Estats Units, anglès
    Creo que la diferencia es como en español:

    The Christmas Holidays = las navidades, incluye todas las fiestas durante un par de días o semanas.

    The Christmas holiday = se refiere sólo al día 25 de diciembre.

  14. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    But not necessarily so in England! ;)

    This is a typical school bulletin:
    Christmas Holiday Begins. December 21 – January 1 - School Closed.

    However, when not referring specifically to school holidays, you are probably more likely to find the plural:
    ... this production is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit as the Christmas holidays begin.

    In general, I think it would be fair to say that we English are not very consistent with our use of holiday/holidays. You are almost as likely to hear, 'I'm going on my holidays on Monday', as 'I'm going on holiday on Monday'. (But I have just realised that the plural version of 'on ... holidays' needs a possessive: On my holidays!)

    We really do make things complicated, don't we? :(
  15. Perrito

    Perrito Senior Member

    Estats Units
    Estats Units, anglès
    I'd agree that we're not very consistent in English with holiday/holidays, plus there are lots of differences between England and the US.
  16. scorpio1984 Senior Member

    Catalan and Spanish (from Spain)
    Excuse me,

    So do you mean that "holidays" is never used in England? I was told both words exist, holiday and holidays. For instance, is it possible to say:

    - It was a great holiday
    - These were great holidays

    thanks a lot!
  17. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    I might be over-generalizing here, but I would say that 'holidays' usually refers to a period of time when the school/college/business/factory etc is closed, hence 'the summer holidays', 'the Easter holidays' and 'the Christmas holidays':
    -I can't wait for the summer holidays. Six whole weeks of rest and relaxation!

    It is when we refer to our own plans that it becomes 'holiday':
    -I am going on holiday for two whole weeks.

    For that reason, you might get both versions within one sentence:
    -The summer holidays begin next week, but I am not going on (my) holiday until the end of July.
    -The holidays were great, especially the last week when I went on holiday to Spain.
    -We always try not to go on holiday during the school holidays.

    Again at risk of over-generalizing, I would say that we would not normally use a posessive with the plural form - we say 'the holidays'. However, with the singular form it is ok to say 'my holiday'.

    Hence, in your two sentences above, I would change the second one. But be aware that they convey (to me, anyway) different ideas:

    1 - I will spend my summer holiday in Cornwall.
    2 - I will spend the summer holidays in Cornwall. (To me, this one implies that if the school/university holidays last for two months, I am going to spend those two months in Cornwall!)
  18. scorpio1984 Senior Member

    Catalan and Spanish (from Spain)
    for instance, if the sentence was "It was a nice and quiet holiday", should I say "holiday" or "holidays"? Thank you
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2011
  19. flyingcabbage Senior Member

    English - Ireland
    Al riesgo de contradecir todo que los otros han dicho, yo creo que las dos son buenos. Lo que The Prof ha dicho me parece correcto pero en Irlanda, se escucha las dos. "Where are you going on your holidays?" es igual a "Where are you going on holiday?".

    Pero por tu frase: "It was a nice and quiet holiday". :)
  20. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    Personalmente, si hablaba de unas vacaciones que yo había tomado fuera de casa, por ejemplo, dos semanas de vacaciones en españa, diría:
    -It was a nice, quiet holiday.
    -The holiday was nice, and quiet.

    Pero si me refería a un período de vacaciones, por ejemplo, a las Navidades, diría:
    -The holidays were nice, and quiet.

    Para complicar las cosas aún más, estoy de acuerdo con flyingcabbage: aquí tambien se oye "Where are you going / Where did you go on your holidays!
  21. ygerne Senior Member

    Hello everybody? I hope you had nice "summer holidays" .I would say that on holiday refers to a precise holiday whereas when you say " on holidays " , you are speaking about holidays in general, for example I usually get up late on holidays. Am I right or wrong ? Thank you for answering
  22. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    Hello, and welcome to the forum.

    My answer is based purely on how I use these terms - there is wide variation in their usage across the English-speaking world, so my own usage will not be the same as everyone else's!

    If meeting up with other students after the summer break (or any general holiday period), I would say, "I hope you enjoyed the (summer) holidays" or ask, "did you enjoy the holidays ?"
    In this context, I would not often use the word "good", although I might say "The holidays were good!
    When talking about a holiday period like this, I would say "I usually get up late during the holidays".

    If refering to a specific holiday away from home, I would say: "I hope you had a good holiday" or ask "Did you have a good holiday?"
    And in this context I would say "I usually get up late when I am on holiday".

    I hope that helps a little, but be prepared for many different answers. :)
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  23. ygerne Senior Member

    I would like to thank the prof for his answer that helped me a lot. I was going to write "People never get up early during holidays" in an exercise intended for my pupils aged 14 who study in a European section but was just wondering whether I could not write "on holidays" instead. Of course, both may be appropriate but I'd rather keep to standard English as much as possible. Thanks again
  24. GuS#3 Member

    Well, I've followed the topic a bit and I hope to shed some light here guys. If we look up the word in a Cambridge online dictionary the result is as follows:

    [h=2]holiday[/h]noun /ˈhɒl.ɪ.deɪ/ [​IMG] /ˈhɑː.lɪ-/
    [C or U] UK (UK informal holidays, UK informal hols, US vacation) a time, often one or two weeks, when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax:a camping/skiing holidayHave you decided where you're going for your holiday(s) this year?Patricia is on holiday next week.How many days' holiday do you get with your new job?We thought we'd go to France for our summer holiday.Surely the school holidays start soon.
    [C] an official day when you do not have to go to work or school:a public holidaySt Patrick's Day is a holiday in Ireland.

    So, I presume that holiday is formal while holidays is informal. Hope it helps instead of puzzling you even more.


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