Grammar On Cakes.

Decorating By ScaryMissMary Updated 31 Aug 2011 , 4:23am by baking_fool

ScaryMissMary Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:12pm
post #1 of 68

I've noticed that when writing a birthday message on a cake very few people put a comma in front of the person's name, e.g. 'Happy birthday Jemma!'
I'm very sure that when addressing somebody you should put a comma before their name, e.g. 'Happy birthday, Jemma!'

My question is whether I should follow what I see others do and forget about the comma, or go by my instinct and leave it there, risking questions about why there's a comma before the name.
Do any of you guys put a comma before somebody's name, and if you do, do you use the same rule on your cakes?

67 replies
JGMB Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:23pm
post #2 of 68

I always think this same thing, ScaryMissMary! (See how I used that comma there?? icon_wink.gif )

It seemed to me that I was the only one using a comma on cakes. I finally asked an English major friend, who said that it could go either way. So, I succumbed to peer pressure and started writing messages without a comma.

Do whatever feels right to you, I guess!

dchockeyguy Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:25pm
post #3 of 68

In a three word sentence, you really don't need the comma. If you think about the way you say Happy Birthday, there really isn't a need to pause there. I think it's fine without and would never think to put it in.

Serena4016 Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:32pm
post #4 of 68

I have the same dilemma also. I asked my sister-in-law who is an English teacher and she said NOT to use the comma. Honestly, I don't think it is a big deal to anyone...except us, obviously! Do whatever you feel is correct. I am terrible with grammer, punctuation and spelling!!

StacyN Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:35pm
post #5 of 68

I think there should be a comma after Happy Birthday and before the person's name. Most people do not add the comma so then if you were to write it that way on a cake it might look odd. I say if you feel the need for the comma then add t in. I think on a cake either way is fine.

Ashleyssweetdesigns Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 2:45pm
post #6 of 68

I myself personally do not put a comma when I write on cakes.

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 3:23pm
post #7 of 68

The "rules" about comma usage have changed. It isn't necessary to use a comma before a name, just as it isn't necessary to use one with the words "too," "also," "in addition," or "however" in the middle of a sentence. You CAN, but it isn't incorrect if you don't. However, if you BEGIN a sentence with one of those words, the comma is necessary. (Although there are exceptions to that rule too: "However long you can wait, I can wait longer." "Although Tom wanted apple pie, he settled with cherry.")

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 3:29pm
post #8 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchockeyguy

In a three word sentence, you really don't need the comma. If you think about the way you say Happy Birthday, there really isn't a need to pause there. I think it's fine without and would never think to put it in.



Agreed. No pause = no comma.

kmstreepey Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 3:47pm
post #9 of 68

I agree no comma. It's not the same as when you are addressing someone, as in the sentence in the first response, "I always think the same thing, ScaryMissMary." In this sentence, you are directing a separate comment to a particular person and you need the comma. But in "happy birthday Joe," the name is not a separate thought, but a part of the same phrase. The best guide to follow is if you are pausing when speaking the sentence, put a comma at the pause. But this is not a hard and fast rule.

emrldsky Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:32pm
post #10 of 68

Depends on how it's written on the cake. For example, if I could fit it all on one line, I would include the comma because I'm old-school that way. However, if I have to fit it on multiple lines, I leave it off, otherwise it just looks odd. icon_smile.gif

lschmitz05 Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 6:06pm
post #11 of 68

I dont use it because I personally think it looks funny on a cake... and so many people question it.

BlakesCakes Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 7:52pm
post #12 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyCakes1966

The "rules" about comma usage have changed. It isn't necessary to use a comma before a name, just as it isn't necessary to use one with the words "too," "also," "in addition," or "however" in the middle of a sentence. You CAN, but it isn't incorrect if you don't. However, if you BEGIN a sentence with one of those words, the comma is necessary. (Although there are exceptions to that rule too: "However long you can wait, I can wait longer." "Although Tom wanted apple pie, he settled with cherry.")




I don't really think the "rules" have changed. I just think people have gotten very lazy due to text-speak, quick typing, Twitter, etc.

People seem to forget that spoken language & written language differ. We don't hear a pause in, "Happy Birthday Jane", but when we write it, we use the comma to create the understanding that her full name isn't, "Happy Birthday Jane".

Think how often we see internet posters use no caps or punctuation, let alone paragraph breaks, etc.

There's a lot of ignoring the rules these days. I guess that's OK--until it completely changes the meaning of something...........

I use a comma before the person's name. I forgot to do it on a cake last winter and when I saw the photo, I kicked myself. It looked wrong--and for me, it was.

Rae

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 8:19pm
post #13 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

People seem to forget that spoken language & written language differ. We don't hear a pause in, "Happy Birthday Jane", but when we write it, we use the comma to create the understanding that her full name isn't, "Happy Birthday Jane".



You also need to take into account common sense and context when looking at whether or not specific usage is correct (or at least appropriate). I doubt party guests will start referring to the birthday girl as "Happy" if the comma is missing. icon_wink.gif

imagenthatnj Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 8:22pm
post #14 of 68
lillidalla Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 8:31pm
post #15 of 68

I guess I'm "old school' and, as a matter of fact, I'm a retired teacher. I do use a comma to set off a name in direct address....on a cake or on paper (or on a computer screen). I agree that most do not include the comma on a cake inscription, but I feel I would not be practicing what I preached for many years if I omitted it.

LisaPeps Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:00pm
post #16 of 68

I don't put a comma because my tappits don't have a comma option to cut one out.

BlakesCakes Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:11pm
post #17 of 68

[quote="jason_kraft"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

You also need to take into account common sense and context when looking at whether or not specific usage is correct (or at least appropriate). I doubt party guests will start referring to the birthday girl as "Happy" if the comma is missing. icon_wink.gif




Please, give me a break! I never even implied such a ludicrous result if the comma were omitted icon_wink.gif

I grew up when advertisers began to use "creative" spellings--lite, cheez, etc. It drove educators crazy trying to get students to understand the idea of creative license versus correct spelling and punctuation.

People are too damn eager to dismiss "rules" and to brand themselves somehow "special" and, therefore, above the rules.

Good grief, it's a speck of icing. If someone chooses to not use a comma--when it would be "more" correct to do so--then they need to be prepared for some perfectionist to call them on it--and for that person to walk away thinking that the poor decorator may be, somehow, "deficient".......... icon_wink.gif

Rae

BlakesCakes Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:13pm
post #18 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaPeps

I don't put a comma because my tappits don't have a comma option to cut one out.




The dot of the "i" or "j" works perfectly !

Rae

-Tubbs Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:35pm
post #19 of 68

Why commas matter:

"Happy birthday, Grandma!" vs. "Happy Birthday Grandma!"

"Let's eat, Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat Grandma!"

To me, the comma should be there, grammatically speaking, but I probably wouldn't put one on a cake simply because it looks a bit odd there.

mommachris Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:37pm
post #20 of 68

I suppose you avoid the issue by writing, "Happy Birthday to Mary"
Wait....is that now a fragment?

mommachris

CWR41 Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 9:51pm
post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommachris

I suppose you avoid the issue by writing, "Happy Birthday to Mary"
Wait....is that now a fragment?

mommachris




Or...
Mary: Happy Birthday!!!

Or if you want to announce it to all of Mary's guests who will eat the cake...
Happy Mary's Birthday!!!!

Ha!

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 10:02pm
post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by -Tubbs

Why commas matter:

"Happy birthday, Grandma!" vs. "Happy Birthday Grandma!"

"Let's eat, Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat Grandma!"



The difference is that the latter sentence contains a verb, while the former does not.

Breaking down the use of the comma in these two examples (based on my interpretation) "Happy Birthday, Grandma" means that Grandma is being addressed directly with the "Happy Birthday" message, while "Happy Birthday Grandma" is more of a general statement wishing Grandma a happy birthday addressing everyone in attendance. Both meanings are appropriate and both convey a meaning in line with the decorator's intentions.

The two statements compare respectively with "Have a Happy Birthday, Grandma!" and "Let's all wish Grandma a Happy Birthday!".

Similarly, "Let's eat, Grandma" is addressing Grandma directly with the "Let's eat" message, and "Let's eat Grandma" is a call for everyone in attendance to cannibalize Grandma. Both statements are grammatically correct, but in most areas of the world the latter statement is frowned upon.

AnnieCahill Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 10:08pm
post #23 of 68
Quote:
Quote:

and "Let's eat Grandma" is a call for everyone in attendance to cannibalize Grandma.




This slays me. I'm just saying...

lillidalla Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 10:17pm
post #24 of 68

It's too bad Lynne Truss doesn't address the subject of cake inscriptions in her book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves icon_smile.gif. (And, BTW, the title should be underlined.)

cureVHAandCF Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 10:40pm
post #25 of 68

I personally don't use commas when i say "Happy birthday Somebody", but i think it's up to the decorator.
Heres just what i think is a funny example of commas(kind of like the"Let's eat Grandma" thing...
"The panda eats shoots and leaves"
or
"The panda eats, shoots, and leaves." icon_biggrin.gif

cureVHAandCF Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 10:43pm
post #26 of 68

I personally don't use commas when i write "Happy birthday somebody" on my cakes, but i think it's up to the decorator.
Here is just a (what i think is funny) example of commas (simular to the "Let's eat Grandma" thing)
"The panda eats shoots and leaves"
or
"The panda eats, shoots, and leaves"

cakesbycathy Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 11:20pm
post #27 of 68

I just don't think it looks right on a cake.

I agree that using proper punctuation is important when writing on paper or typing.

God forbid anyone should eat grandma. icon_wink.gif

ScaryMissMary Posted 28 Aug 2011 , 1:44pm
post #28 of 68

Wow, I didn't expect such a debate to break out icon_razz.gif
I think I would much rather have the comma before the name as the cake is for the birthday girl or boy, rather than for the guests! But if it looks odd I'll get rid of it; a pretty cake is more important than a comma!

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 28 Aug 2011 , 2:13pm
post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyCakes1966

The "rules" about comma usage have changed. It isn't necessary to use a comma before a name, just as it isn't necessary to use one with the words "too," "also," "in addition," or "however" in the middle of a sentence. You CAN, but it isn't incorrect if you don't. However, if you BEGIN a sentence with one of those words, the comma is necessary. (Although there are exceptions to that rule too: "However long you can wait, I can wait longer." "Although Tom wanted apple pie, he settled with cherry.")



I don't really think the "rules" have changed. I just think people have gotten very lazy due to text-speak, quick typing, Twitter, etc.

People seem to forget that spoken language & written language differ. We don't hear a pause in, "Happy Birthday Jane", but when we write it, we use the comma to create the understanding that her full name isn't, "Happy Birthday Jane".

Think how often we see internet posters use no caps or punctuation, let alone paragraph breaks, etc.

There's a lot of ignoring the rules these days. I guess that's OK--until it completely changes the meaning of something...........

I use a comma before the person's name. I forgot to do it on a cake last winter and when I saw the photo, I kicked myself. It looked wrong--and for me, it was. Rae




Actually, the rules have changed. The citation book used when I was in college in the late '80s suggested to use a comma before a person's name. The books used today suggest that comma usage can make a written sentence look messy, so they have "changed the rules" about when a comma should and should not be used. One of the changes is before a person's name. There are exceptions, of course, such as if the name is preceded by a verb. (They still don't want us to eat Grandma!) These books are written by grammarians, not lazy people. icon_lol.gif

When I returned to school a few years ago, my papers were always covered with little red circles where I had used an (now) unnecessary comma. I still catch myself wanting to put a comma before a name.....and it's fine if you DO. It just isn't incorrect if you don't, although my professor would disagree.

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 28 Aug 2011 , 2:23pm
post #30 of 68

When you write a letter to someone, the greeting doesn't read "Dear, Sue," or Dear, Sir:". Just saying. icon_lol.gif

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