A cou­ple of weeks ago, I cel­e­brat­ed my 42nd birth­day. As usu­al­ly, I received hun­dreds of wish­es through Linked, Face­book, and var­i­ous oth­er social media sites and newslet­ters. One thing I noticed is that the way peo­ple write “hap­py birth­day” varies.

A com­mon method was “Hap­py Birth­day Kim”.

In extend­ing a gram­mat­i­cal­ly cor­rect birth­day greet­ing, there are 3 things to keep in mind.

  1. Birth­day is a com­mon noun. This means you don’t cap­i­tal­ize it. It’s not like Christ­mas or Hallowe’en, which are spe­cif­ic hol­i­days so are prop­er names. One’s birth­day, on the oth­er hand, is not a spe­cif­ic hol­i­day — every­one has one — so it’s treat­ed as a com­mon noun.
  2. Hap­py is cap­i­tal­ized some­times. Hap­py also isn’t a prop­er noun (Heck, it’s not even a noun.), so it’s cap­i­tal­ized only as the first word in a sen­tence or per­haps in the title of a song.
  3. Use a com­ma. When­ev­er you address some­one with their name, pre­cede it with a com­ma.

Using those 3 tips, here’s how to write a gram­mat­i­cal­ly cor­rect Face­book birth­day greet­ing:

Hap­py birth­day, Kim!


Have a hap­py birth­day, Kim!

Now you know.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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