See why you should write 'Happy birthday, Tammy' and not 'Happy birthday Tammy'

English Lesson Notes for Junior Secondary

See why you should write 'Happy birthday, Tammy' and not 'Happy birthday Tammy'

One of the features of language is that it is systematic, that is, it follows an organised pattern hence shouldn't be written or spoken haphazardly. On no account should this unique feature of language be traded for anything, not even the uneducated writing system of social media users. It is quite unfortunate that so many persons have welcomed their reckless attitudes to the home of language. Nobody seems to be cautious of his/her writing. In fact, we are now at a point where everybody wants to speak the English language without learning it. If you are one of such persons, you will keep on writing "happy birthday Tammy" instead of "happy birthday, Tammy".
See why you should write "Happy birthday, Tammy" and not  "Happy birthday Tammy"

You will never know the importance of the comma preceding the noun (Tammy) until you get the full gist. So, stay calm but inquisitive as I take you on this educative journey. Remember, knowledge is power!

The expressions, "happy birthday, Tammy" and "happy birthday Tammy", are examples of what is called a direct address in grammar, but only one seems to be very correct. A direct address is a sentence in which a speaker communicates a message to another individual. By rule, the name of the individual who is addressed is set off by a comma. Omitting a comma in a direct address is a sheer display of one's incompetence in the language. Therefore, the correct expression should be “Happy birthday, Tammy".

Other examples are "Good morning, mom"; "You are welcome, sir"; "I love you, bro"; "I hate it, man"; "Thanks, man" etc. The rule is the same even if the noun or pronoun that is being addressed appears at the beginning or middle of the sentence. For example, "Mom, how was your day?"

The major reason grammarians disapprove the omission of comma in a direct address is that it can cause semantic misinterpretation. Now check out the sentences below.
  • I love her, mom.
  • I love her mom.
Did you spot any difference?