1. Suppose you forgot to wish someone an occasion, and you're wise after the event, how do you go about offering your wishes given that a couple days have gone by since? "[Wish you a] Happy Birthday/Thanksgiving, etc. 'belatedly'" OR "[Here's wishing you a] 'belated' Happy Birthday/Thanksgiving, etc."

a] Is is okay to use "belated" or "belatedly" to this purpose?

b] How would Americans say it in their native/vulgar/idiomatic tongue, slang, vernacular, etc.?

  1. In the same vein, if you wanna wish someone well before time, perhaps cuz you might be away during the event,

a] is it acceptable to say "Happy Birthday/Thanksgiving in advance"?

b] how would Americans say it in their native/vulgar/idiomatic tongue, vernacular, slang, etc.?

If there is more than one possible way to express these ideas each, it would help to list them all.

4 Answers 4


There is nothing in the English language, per se, that requires you to use any construction including words to the effect of "in advance" or "belated".

English speakers are free to use the words that fit both their mood and the occasion (and the same goes for written communication), whether it's formal or informal. As an aside, using formulaic language can tend to diminish the apparent sincerity of the statement.

With that said, you may wish to simply say something along the following lines:

I won't be able to say this later, but I hope you have a happy birthday.

I'm sorry I couldn't say this earlier, but I hope you had a happy birthday.

Some types of well wishing are more timeless, so they can be given early or late without regret or explanation. (They do expire, eventually, but you'll have to be the judge wither any regret for being late is appropriate.) For example:

Congratulations on the birth of your child.

This is from my American native/vulgar point of view.


To answer one of your questions, belated is current usage.

belated - Coming or happening later than should have been the case. OED

"Please accept my belated /congratulations on/wishes/..."

but you might also say:

"Please forgive me this tardy note but I would like /to wish you/congratulate you on/..."

  1. Wish you a belated, happy birthday.

  2. 'Belated' is used as an adjective here.

  3. I am not sure how Americans would say it in vernac.

  4. In the same vein, if you wanna wish someone well before time, perhaps cuz you might be away during the event, you may add the phrase 'in advance'.

  5. Not sure again

Hope that helps.

  • 1
    In American vernacular I wouldn't use belated in an informal context. I would wish my friend either an early or late happy birthday. In a sense it becomes a quote, and if forced to write it out it would probably look like, "wishing you a late, 'happy birthday!'" The sense is that the act of wishing them a happy birthday is late (or early), but it's still the same "happy birthday!" they would have gotten anyways.
    – Gerger
    Dec 29, 2014 at 18:48

1a. Never heard "belatedly"

b.The common expression in America is: Wishing you a belated "Happy Birthday" (written)-or- "Many happy returns" (written or spoken)

2a.& b. Free speech allows for anyone to say anything, anytime. Within a week before the event is reasonable. "Have a Happy Birthday -or-Thanksgiving/Holiday/Turkey!"

  • Nopt sure which is worse: Have a Happy Turkey or Have a Happy Birthday, Turkey! Dec 29, 2014 at 16:23

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