How to differentiate holiday, holidays, vacation and days off? -

How to differentiate holiday, holidays, vacation and days off?

Share it!

The interpretation of the words holiday, holidays, and vacation offer many doubts, especially in those who have been studying English for a short time, we believe that this is more than enough reason to address the subject and offer a clarifying explanation, to know when to use it.

Indeed, knowing if using holiday or holidays is a common question when learning English. Perhaps the confusion arises because in Spanish the word “vacaciones” is always used, whatever the context, regardless of whether it is singular or plural. It should be borne in mind that in English there is a plural and singular form and they also have different employment criteria.

For its part, vacation means “vacaciones” and its use is more typical of American English in which the person who enjoys a vacation is called a “vacationer”.

Differences: holiday or holidays

Basically, it’s something like singular vs. plural. Holiday is used when you mean a holiday/vacation, while holidays means some vacation days or a period of time without working/studying. However, it is said to be on holiday when you mean to be on vacation.

Holidays are used:

When it comes to referring to a specific vacation time:

  • Christmas holidays.
    Vacaciones de Navidad.
  • Summer holidays.
    Vacaciones estivales.

Relate trips

Holidays refer to more than one trip.

  • How many holidays time did you have last summer?
    ¿Cuántas vacaciones tuviste el verano pasado?
  • I had three holiday periods last year: at Easter, I went to Spain, in summer to France and in winter to Portugal.
    Tuve tres periodos de vacaciones el año pasado: en Semana Santa fui a España, en verano a Francia y en invierno a Portugal

Mientras Holiday se emplea para referirse a un solo evento o día festivo concreto

  • Good Friday is a holiday, that’s why he doesn’t go to work.
    El Viernes Santo es feriado, por eso no va a trabajar.


Vacation is the term used by North Americans when it refers to a more or less long period of vacation, while in the United Kingdom they use holiday

  • How good! ten days to go on vacation.
    ¡Qué bien! Faltan diez días para irme de vacaciones

In reality, vacation is not widely used in the United Kingdom, except when it is to refer to a more or less long period, in which it is closed, for example, a university.

However, the holiday is mostly used by Americans to refer to a national holiday such as Thanksgiving or Independence Day. Therefore, in the United States, you can have a holiday day during your vacation.

In summary, we can say that in American English, they use the word vacation to talk about vacations, while in British English holiday is used.

In both cases, it is customary to combine these verbs

  • To be on holiday/vacation.
    (estar de vacaciones).
  • To go on holiday/vacation.
    (irse de vacaciones).
  • To take a holiday/vacation.
    (cogerse las vacaciones).
  • When was the last time you took a holiday? / When was the last time you took a vacation?
    ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que se fue de vacaciones? / ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que tomó unas vacaciones?
  • We’re on vacation. / We’re on holiday.
    Estamos de vacaciones. / Estamos de vacaciones.
  • I like to go on vacation in the spring / I like to go on holiday in the spring.
    Me gusta irme de vacaciones en primavera. / Me gusta irme de vacaciones en primavera.

Mistakes made when using the word vacation

Be careful with the word vacation! Vacation has no plural in English!

  • How were your vacation? –> How was your vacation?
    ¿Cómo fueron tus vacaciones? -> ¿Cómo fueron tus vacaciones?

Make sure you pronounce the v as an English v and not as a b. The two areas are pronounced like the an in late, not as in cow in Spanish.

Days off in English: “Have a day off”

In addition to holidays, holidays, and vacations you can also say “have a day off” or “have a few days off” to have a few days off. For instance:

  • I have a few days off in August, and I’m going to the beach.
    Tengo unos días libres en agosto y me voy a la playa.
  • I’m new to the company, so I don’t have many days off this year.
    Soy nuevo en la compañía, así que no tengo muchos días libres este año.

You can also say “take a day off” to take the day off. Or if you want, more than one day.

  • I’m going to take the day off to visit my aunt in the hospital.
    Voy a tomarme el día libre para visitar a mi tía en el hospital.
  • I’m going to take a week off at Christmas.
    Voy a tomarme una semana libre en Navidad.
  • She took a year off when she had her first child.
    Se tomó un año libre cuando tuvo su primer hijo.

“Take a sick day”

On the other hand, in American English, ” take a sick day ” is used to take the day off due to illness.


  • If you feel bad, take a sick day.
    Si te sientes mal, tómate un día por enfermedad.
  • She took a sick day, but really she was at an interview for another job.
    Se tomó un día por enfermedad, pero en realidad estaba en una entrevista para otro trabajo.
  • He’s been on sick leave since he broke his leg a couple of weeks ago.
    Ha estado de baja por enfermedad desde que se fracturó la pierna hace un par de semanas.
  • She’s been on maternity leave for 3 months.
    Ha estado de baja por maternidad durante 3 meses.
5/5 - (2 votes)
Share it!

Bienvenidos a todos los amantes de las lenguas, las diferentes culturas que nos rodean, rincones secretos del mundo, curiosidades y aprendizaje. Todo reunido en este bonito espacio en el que disfrutamos comunicando y dando buenas vibras a todos nuestros queridos viajer@s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *