My father just celebrated his 90th birthday, but the banner announcing his special day was missing something. Can you recognize what was missing from the title of this post?
Yes, the banner lacked a comma. It should have read:
Happy 90th Birthday, Ed!
The reason is direct address. That is, the message was directly addressing Ed, so his name needed to be set off by a comma.
The phrasing below does not need a comma because it talks about Ed rather than to him:
Happy 90th Birthday to Ed!
Everyone enjoyed the cake, the singing of old favorites, and the photos from my parents' 1940s wedding and my father's days in the US Navy. No one seemed to notice an absence of punctuation. Or perhaps, like me, they ignored the error and happily kept on singing.