My friend, Ted, is happy.--This sentence is grammatically correct. Yet, I am wondering if the sentence below is also possible.

My friend, Ted, be happy.

Does this mean that the person is talking to his friend, Ted and wants him to be happy?

2 Answers 2


OP's second example is syntactically valid, but it's not something a native speaker is likely to say. I switched from my friend to my son because it makes some points easier to explain, but the principles are the same for both.

We sometimes include the addressee's name when speaking to them. But unless it's specifically to catch their attention (as in "Ted! Come over here!") we normally put it at the end of the utterance (as in "I agree with you, my son."). And we wouldn't use my son in the first scenario anyway; people prick their ears up when they hear their own name, not just if they hear a "family relationship" term that might apply to them.

Finally, we wouldn't normally identify the addressee twice in the same utterance. OP's first example is idiomatically natural (assuming the speaker thinks whoever she's talking to doesn't know her son is called Ted, OR she has more than one son, so it's for disambiguation). But obviously if the speaker is addressing her own son, neither of those reasons apply.


My friend, Ted, is happy. would be descriptive.

In speech, one often hears:

Ted, my friend, be happy.

The name of the person in apposition to my friend when addressing the friend directly.

  • Ted, my friend, be happy sounds to me like a line of dialogue in a trashy novel. I find it hard to imagine a real person saying it (unless perhaps they were very drunk and maudlin). Jan 12, 2023 at 0:50
  • @FumbleFingers So what? It's idiomatic. We do use names with my friend appositively. "John my friend, be careful. ndt.net/forum/thread.php?msgID=54713
    – Lambie
    Jan 12, 2023 at 18:49
  • Perhaps we have different ideas about what "idiomatic" means. Besides which, the link you've just cited is a fairly unusual "internet forum" context, from a Canadian professor whose profile lists French as his primary language (before English and German). The usage under consideration probably occurs more often in books and movies because the writers need to remind the reader / viewer about names and relationships. In the real world we don't need to do that (except maudlin drunks who feel they need to remind whoever they've fallen into conversation with that they're "friends"). Jan 12, 2023 at 19:02
  • @FumbleFingers One can easily imagine, one man saying to another in a difficult circumstance in English: "John, my friend, [verb etc]" appositively. This is completely idiomatic in English regardless of what you claim.
    – Lambie
    Jan 12, 2023 at 19:58
  • 1
    We're just repeating ourselves, Lambie, my friend. Let's just leave it at that. Jan 12, 2023 at 20:19

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