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!

or

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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