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TWTS: Daylight saving time ends, leaves behind persistent usage issue

Our clocks fell back by an hour Sunday morning. As they did, a much-discussed usage issue once again raised its head.

Though most of us would agree the extra hour of sleep is nice, there’s contention over what we call this particular event.

Calendars mark the first Sunday in November with something like “daylight saving time ends” or “the end of daylight saving time.” However, as a listener named Abigail Bruhlmann tells us, not everyone calls it “daylight saving time.”

“I've always said, ‘daylight savings time,’ and I think most everyone I have ever spoken with has said it this way, too,” Bruhlmann says. “Why does it feel so natural to add an ‘s’ to connect the ‘ng at the end of "saving" and the ‘t’ at the beginning of ‘time’?

Originally, it was “daylight saving time,” without the “s” at the end of “saving.” As Bruhlmann points out though, the plural form “savings” is very common in American English.

There’s a good reason for that.

We’ve had things like savings accounts, savings and loan banks, savings books, etc. in the language since the early 1800s. Daylight saving time only goes back about a hundred years.

Since “savings” was well-established long before we started talking about daylight saving time, it’s no wonder so many of us are inclined to make the “saving” in “daylight saving time” plural.

This turned us on to another usage issue involving “saving” vs. “savings.” To hear about that, listen to the audio above.


Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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