What's the correct sentence?
- Belated happy birthday!
- Happy belated birthday!
Personally, I've used both versions. Nevertheless:
Therefore I would suggest something along the lines of:
Well belated means behind date or late.
From Oxford English Dictionary:
- Detained beyond the usual time, coming or staying too late; out of date, behind date.
So, if you're wishing someone a Happy Birthday which is late, you would use:
Belated Happy Birthday
I would favour the first, because a wish for one to have a happy birthday is possible, but a belated birthday is not, though the second suggests that you are wishing them happiness on their belated birthday.
A belated birthday celebration is of course perfectly possible, but I'd just say "happy birthday" in such a case.
"Belated", of course, refers to something that has been delayed. From Merriam-Webster:
be·lat·ed adjective \bi-ˈlā-təd, bē-\ 1: delayed beyond the usual time 2: existing or appearing past the normal or proper time
So, to wish someone after their actual birthday, the best phrase in my opinion would be "Belated birthday wishes", because it's just your wishes that got delayed.
Among the two options yo've given, "Belated Happy Birthday" is more common in my part of the world than the other.
A ‘Happy Birthday’ would mean- ‘May the day of your birth(current day), happy for you’. So wishing someone delayed, say after 5 days- ‘May your birthday that occurred 5 days ago, should have been happy’ ?? umm.. It does not make any sense. Delayed birthday wishes make no sense other than realizing our mistake. Your feelings are not outdated, anytime you wish, it’s fresh. So I feel, ‘Happy’ should be the first word whenever you wish. The day of birth has gone so ‘belated birthday’ So ‘Happy Belated Birthday.
A "birthdate" is always a specific date. It cannot be delayed like a dentist appointment. Just because you forgot or missed sending your greetings prior to and up to the actual date it has no bearing on the birth date. Your greetings are late or belated. Try to diagram the sentence "I wish you a happy belated birthday."
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