I have another confusing test question:

Are you doing anything special ..... New Year?"

Possible answers:

  1. in
  2. on
  3. at

If 'New Year' is the period in the begging on the new year then we can use 'in'.

If 'New Year' is the New Year's Day (or the New Year's Eve) the we should use 'on'.

I also suspect that 'the' article should be used before 'New Year'.

Could someone clarify usage of 'New Year'?

  • What country is this geared for (or which are you interested in)? My (poor) understanding is that there is a difference between AmE and BrE differ in this case... for example, as an AmE speaker, I might say "What are you doing for New Year's" while (I believe) a BrE speaker might say "What are you doing at New Year's?". – Catija Dec 6 '16 at 19:40
  • Possible duplicate? ell.stackexchange.com/questions/109946/… – Catija Dec 6 '16 at 19:48
  • @Catija it's close but here there is the added question of "on New Year's Eve" vs. "in the New Year". – Andrew Dec 6 '16 at 19:56
  • @Catija, it doesn't specify what country it is geared for. – AlexD Dec 6 '16 at 19:56
  • So, the problem is that, if that's the exact text of the test question, you need to find a different book/teacher/whatever. None of those options are valid options. – Catija Dec 6 '16 at 19:57

(In American English) "New Year's" is short for "New Year's Eve" and is usually capitalized. "The new year" means "this next year" and is usually not capitalized. Just saying "New Year" is not grammatically complete, and so I wouldn't know for sure which you mean.

All of the following are possible (as well as many other variations):

What are you doing New Year's (Eve)?

What are you doing for New Year's (Eve)?

What are you doing on New Year's (Eve)?

What are you doing for the new year?

What are you doing in the new year?

What are you doing at midnight on New Year's?

Side note: The first option is the title of a classic "standard" song that you'll often hear this time of year.

New Year's can also mean "New Year's Day", but if you don't specify most people would assume you mean New Year's Eve, because that's when the parties are.

| improve this answer | |
  • could 'New Year' without article or possessive be understood as holiday season (like Christmas)? – AlexD Dec 6 '16 at 20:50
  • @AlexD I would probably understand what you mean, but it's not idiomatic English. If you want to specify both it's "the Holidays" or "the Holiday Season" (or if you want to be lyrical, "The most wonderful time of the year"). "New Year's" is specific to that holiday. Also, I edited my answer to add some additional information. – Andrew Dec 6 '16 at 22:19
  • I have found following usage examples in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary "I'm spending New Year in Scotland with my parents.", and in Harrap's Essential English Dictionary "Are you doing anything special for New Year?" (Exact match for my original question). – AlexD Dec 6 '16 at 22:32
  • 1
    @AlexD someone else mentioned that British English might be different, so please consider my suggestions as examples of American English only. – Andrew Dec 6 '16 at 22:34
  • I don't think your first possibility works without Eve*—I'm not sure why, but *What are you doing New Year's Eve sounds OK to my ear (also AmE) but What are you doing New Year's sounds completely wrong. – 1006a Dec 8 '16 at 20:06

This is a pretty complex question as what you say depends on what you want to convey or ask.

If you're asking what someone is planning for the upcoming year, you'd use "in".

Are you doing anything special in the new year?

Note, in this case, you do need the article.

If you want to ask about someone's plans for New Year's Eve, you could use either "on" or "for", depending on where you are.

Are you doing anything special for New Year's [Eve]?
Are you doing anything special on New Year's [Eve]?

Note that in this case you will not use the article and, in casual talk, the "Eve" is usually implied, though it can be interpreted to mean "Day" as well, though usually context will tell you which is meant.

I believe that, in British English, you could also use "at" for the above sentence, though it may not work if you're talking about a single day.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.