Grammar Q & A Newsgroup

Click on Questions and Answers to see the newest messages. If you want to post a message or comment, you will be prompted to login. (If you are not registered, you can do so from the login box.) Remember to bookmark this page to make it easier to return to it.

    Grammar Exchange    Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forum Categories  The Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forums  Questions and Answers    Many happy returns of your birthday
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Many happy returns of your birthday
 Login/Join 
Member
Posts: 2489
posted   Report This Post  
Dear teachers.
Please explain what this sentence means.
"Many happy returns of your birthday."
Thank you.
Member
Posts: 19512
posted   Hide PostReport This Post  
The expression is "Many happy returns ON your birthday. "On" goes with "day." Remember that when mentioning a day, we use the preposition "on."

"Many happy returns" is a special phrase. We use it in congratulatory messages, especially birthday greetings. It is a little formal.

It means that I hope many good things will happen to you. So "Many happy returns on your birthday" means that I hope many good things happen to you on your birthday.

Rachel
<Marilyn Martin>
posted   Report This Post  
The expression that I learned as a young child was

"Many happy returns of the day."

I remember this clearly because at that age I couldn't understand what "returns" meant. I thought it should be "returnings."
Member
Posts: 19512
posted   Hide PostReport This Post  
,Both "many happy returns of the day" and "many happy returns on your birthday" are used.
However, "many happy returns of the day" is used much more frequently. It has 107,000 examples on Google, like this one:

  • We congratulate this company on that outstanding event and wish them many happy returns of the day, prosperity and success! ...
    www.regioninfo.biz/look_new.php?key_news=124

    Google has fewer -- only 2,060 for "many happy returns on your birthday," like this one:'

  • Many happy returns on your birthday. Sherri. sherric@empnet.com. My deepest thanks for all the joy and warmth your music has added to my life. ...
    www.cdeb.com/cdebnew/cdebbday.html -
    _______

    So, you can use either "many happy returns of the day." or "many happy returns on your birthday."

    Rachel
  • <Marilyn Martin>
    posted   Report This Post  
    Yes, either wish is idiomatic and popular.

    Quote:
    _________________________________________________________
    It means that I hope many good things will happen to you. So "Many happy returns on your birthday" means that I hope many good things happen to you on your birthday.
    _________________________________________________________________

    Here's what The Phrase Finder says:

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/244300.html

    Many happy returns
    Meaning

    Have many more happy days, especially birthdays.
    Origin
    Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used on birthdays; prior to the mid 19th century it was used more generally, at any celebratory or festive event.
    The first record O can find of it in print is in a letter written by Lady Newdigate in 1789 (published in Newdigate-Newdegate Cheverels in 1898):
    "Many happy returns of ye day to us my Dr Love."
      Powered by Social Strata  
     

        Grammar Exchange    Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forum Categories  The Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forums  Questions and Answers    Many happy returns of your birthday