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Vacación vs vacaciones. What is the appropriate usage?

I often see it used in singular in Duolingo Spanish form but have been told that is wrong usage.

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  • Thank you. I have no experience with duolingo so I can't judge it in general, but I've never seen or heard the singular. Have you checked a dictionary, or the outstanding resource, linguee.com? – aparente001 Aug 3 '18 at 11:13
  • Where have you seen it in the singular? I never ever have. Except for a similar usage to sabbatical or taking time off work, but not as vacation or a holiday. – Lambie Aug 3 '18 at 22:25
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According to the dictionary of the RAE:

vacación
Del lat. vacatio, -ōnis.

  1. f. Descanso temporal de una actividad habitual, principalmente del trabajo remunerado o de los estudios. U. m. en pl.

  2. f. Tiempo que dura la cesación del trabajo. U. m. en pl.

The abbreviation U. m. en pl. stands for "Usado más en plural" so it can be used in the singular according to the RAE but it usually is not.

Although Google Ngrams is not a particularly reliable source since it only searched books I ran a search

https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=en+vacacion%2Cen+vacaciones%2Cen+las+vacaciones&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=21&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cen%20vacacion%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cen%20vacaciones%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cen%20las%20vacaciones%3B%2Cc0"

which shows that "en vacaciones" is the most common followed by "en las vacaciones" with the singular very uncommon after 1900. There is a mysterious peak in "en las vacaciones" in the 1870s. I have no idea why that is.

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  • To express We alway read on vacation. Would it be Nosotros siempre leemos en vacaciónes or Nosotros siempre leemos en las vacaciónes; why do i need las? – user19907 Aug 4 '18 at 7:39
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As you can see in this post

RAE
Cuenta verificada @RAEinforma

#RAEconsultas Aunque «vacaciones» es el uso mayoritario, el singular «vacación» es tb. correcto: «la vacación veraniega» (P. Laín Entralgo).


LC_Historia
@crisis_historia 1 ago. 2017 En respuesta a @RAEinforma

Entonces ¿Es válida la expresión "me voy de vacación"? Gracias


RAE
Cuenta verificada @RAEinforma 2 ago. 2017

#RAEconsultas Sí, pero no se corresponde con el uso mayoritario y normal hoy («Me voy de vacaciones»).

Which translated and paraphrased:

RAE
Verified Account @RAEinforma

#RAEconsultas Although «vacaciones» is the majority use, the singular «vacación» is also correct: «la vacación veraniega» (P. Laín Entralgo).


LC_Historia
@crisis_historia 1 Aug. 2017 Replying to @RAEinforma

So is the expression "me voy de vacación" valid? Thank you


RAE
Verified Account @RAEinforma 2 Aug. 2017

#RAEconsultas Yes, but it does not correspond to the majority and normal use today («Me voy de vacaciones»).

So both uses of the word are correct, but the plural form is the most common.

This has an explanation, the term "vacación" becomes a noun with an abstract meaning since you can not indicate una vacación as such and can not be measured, for example it is not appropriate to say:

- Tengo dos vacaciones.

but rather:

- Tengo dos periodos de vacaciones. / Tengo dos periodos de vacación.

And since the term vacation usually refers to a period of several days of rest, its plural form fits more in the context where it is used, and that is why this is the most common form used.

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I've never heard of it in singular, not even in different contexts.

The only usages I know are:

as a verb :
Vacacionar (and it certainly has all the possible conjugations)

as a noun:
Vacaciones (plural)
Vacacionista (singular of a person going on vacations)

examples:

nos vamos de vacaciones : we are going on vacations
¿a donde te vas de vacaciones? : where are you going for vacations?
vamos a vacacionar : we are going on vacation
soy un vacacionista: I'm a vacationist
durante la temporada de vacaciones: during vacation/s season

I don't think "vacación" is a wrong word, but its usage is WEIRD, probably will fall in disuse sometime soon.

Wordreference forum results tell that in different parts of the world it is used in plural and rarely (or never) in singular.

Even a single day of vacation in Spanish is "Un solo dia de vacaciones" .

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  • vacacionar? Nunco lo he oido. – Lambie Aug 3 '18 at 22:24
  • es muy común en el ambiente formal – Mike Aug 5 '18 at 7:15

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