have a good day

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Silvia, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'd like to know what's the difference between the following expressions at the end of a letter:

    Have a good day


    You have a good day.

    I thought the latter sounded more irritated, but I guess I'm wrong. Is there anything I am missing?

    And also, the greeting at the end of a letter should be followed by a comma or a full mark?

  2. kenny74 Member

    I don't think there's any sense of irritation in the second one. It sounds more like the kind of sign-off you would find in an American Letter;just adding a bit more emphasis. I would put a comma after it if you were signing your name
  3. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    So you mean there's no difference at all between the two, so I can use them both as I like?
  4. kenny74 Member

    No real difference. They would both be friendly and informal
  5. Tomas Robinson

    Tomas Robinson Senior Member

    Puerto Rico
    USA, English & Spanish
    Yes, a comma is expected for either.

    Actually, the "You have a good day" makes me think of "y'all have a good day". Short for "you all", it's a distinctly southern (and western) U.S. flavor and one of the very few times the object in American English is addressed with a plural in the 2nd person (there's "ustedes" en español, but there isn't an equal English word -- "you" in 2nd person means one or many). :)

  6. madmouse New Member

    Órgiva, España
    England, English (but live in Spain now)
    To me "You have a good day." is not a correct sentence in English.

    "Have a good day" or "I hope you have a good day" are both correct.

  7. Sybil Senior Member


    You can also say "Have a good one" or "You have a good one," which is really informal And, again, there's really no difference in meaning between the two.

    "You have a good day" also reminds me of "Hope you have a good day."

    Tomas, and what I like about "y'all" is that it can refer to either a group of people or a single person. Can't do that with "you guys" now, can we? ;-)
  8. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Rob, do you mean maybe it's an American expression? Or is it stylistically wrong both in American English and British English?
  9. madmouse New Member

    Órgiva, España
    England, English (but live in Spain now)
    Well, I can only comment on British English, no idea about American English, and even then I'm not an expert, but in my opinion "You have a good day." is not structuraly correct and it's not anything I or any of my friends would say. But it might be more common in American English, I don't know.
  10. RTB

    RTB Member

    England, English
    I agree. However, it is used informally in England and America but is usually followed by a 'now': 'You have a good day now'.
    Silviap, I would stick to using 'have a good day'.

  11. Sybil Senior Member

    Well, "you have a good day" is a correct sentence in American English. In this context, it's an imperative and it's cceptable because you can use a pronoun if you're addressing someone directly.
    (Note: you can use the imperative not only for giving orders but also to make suggestions, and "you have a good day (now)" is a suggestion.)

    Silvia, in your example, "you" is "polite," but you are on the right track when you suggest that sometimes a pronoun used in a command may imply that the speaker is angry or plain rude.
    If someone says, "Try working for 6 months with no pay," it sounds more or less like a polite complaint. The speaker is probably tired. But if someone says, "You try working for 6 months with no pay," especially if "you" is stressed, the speaker is probably not only tired but also frustrated. :)
  12. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Thank you all!

    Sybil, that's why I was asking! I guess I heard that somewhere... maybe in some movie, especially with a well, before that:
    Well, you go to bed now.
    What about that?
  13. DesertCat Senior Member

    inglese | English
    I consider the addition of "you" to emphasize the point that you have a good day or go to bed or do whatever since it's not necessary to add "you" if you're talking directly to someone.

    However, in my tendency to over-analyze everything, there are situations where I consider it somewhat condescending if someone says "you have a good day" (an order) rather than "have a good day" (a suggestion).
  14. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Silviap, "You have a good day" is correct but odd sounding. Depending on the tone it can even sound insincere (the sign-off of a telemarketer comes to mind). If you stress the You and add too (you have a good day, too) it can be a response to someone who has said to you "have a good day" first, but on its own I would steer clear. It's just too affected.
  15. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    "well you have a good day", or "well you go to bed", is clearly a conversation ender, though not necessarily stern. Kind of a "vabbè, ora vai a letto"
  16. Sybil Senior Member


    Hm... “Well, you go to bed now” is just another way of saying “well, time to get some sleep now” ("time for me to get some sleep," or "time for us to get some sleep" or, in this context, "time for you to get some sleep"). Or as lsp has put it, “Kind of a ‘vabbè, ora vai a letto’.”

    Can’t think of any examples of what else you might be referring to at the moment. You just holler when you hear that phrase again, so we can help you out, deal? ;)
  17. Nick

    Nick Senior Member

    Western USA
    USA, English
    As others have pointed out, this is just a stylistic choice. Unless the "you" is stressed, it makes no difference.

    "Well, you go to bed now" and "Well, you can go to bed now" and "Well, go to bed now" are all the same -- they all are giving you a gentle hint. The speaker thinks it is time for you to sleep. This sounds like something a parent or would say to their child.
  18. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    If I go into a store and buy something, the clerk says to me: You have a good day, now, my impression is that the clerk is making his greeting more personal. He is directing the statement to me personally rather than the usual, generic Have a good day.

    For some reason, I like Have a good day rather than Have a nice day. I like Have a good one even more!
  19. Sybil Senior Member

    Couldn't agree with you more, Jacinta.
    I like "Have a good one" the most. To me, "have a nice day" is the least personal of all.
  20. lauranazario

    lauranazario Moderatrix

    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico/Español & English
    I agree as well, Jacinta.
    I believe the addition of the "you" does personalize what would otherwise be a generic greeting or farewell. :)

  21. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Thank you all :)

    Now it's clearer ;)
  22. Blue Spotted Frog New Member

    United States, English
    "Have a good one" sounds cooler.
  23. JennGirl New Member

    Hello everyone! I am a switchboard operator for a major hospital and would like to find a more eloquent way of wishing callers a good day.

    Currently, I alternate between: "Have a nice day", "You have a good day", "I hope you enjoy your day", etc.

    They all don't sound as personal as I'd like them to....and I don't receive enough information from the caller to personalize it.

    These calls are fast-paced, so I can't have the ending too long. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions.

    Thank you in advance!
  24. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Hello Jenn ~ Welcome to the English Only forum:)
    Are the people calling you from your local area? Perhaps you could say something like Enjoy the lovely weather. (Having thought about it, this might sound a bit stupid in Florida. It wouldn't in the UK where you never know what the weather's going to do from one minute to the next ... other than that it'll usually be bad.)
    Would It was nice/good talking to you be inappropriate? ~ I suppose it depends on the type of call you're taking.
    Sorry, can't think of anything else ...
  25. JennGirl New Member

    Thanks for replying, Ewie!

    There are so many calls...most aren't local....but I appreciate the idea...it will certainly be useful in particular situations!

  26. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    The only other thing I can think of is: if when the person calls there's something audible in the background you might sign off by mentioning it ~ I'll let you get back to your football game; Sounds like Baby wants feeding; I think your dog needs letting out, something like that
  27. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    You have a good day is what I use in two situations. First, I am aware that my listener has had a bit of bad luck. "You have a good day," makes it sound like I really care. Second, my listener is someone I've struck up a conversation with in a shopping mall, at the check out counter. I've never seen him before. [ have gotten shocked reactions anywhere except in the States] In parting--we will likely never see each other again--"You have a good day," gives a feeling that you really enjoyed talking to him about the frigid weather, the results of the Super Bowl or whatever.
  28. MyRomance New Member

    "Have a good day!" is a wish...
    "You have a good day" is a constatation...
  29. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    “Have a good day” is improper English, since the word “have” is different from hoping, or wishing. Suppose I handed you a dollar, and said, “Have a dollar”. I would be giving you a dollar, right? You, however, cannot give me a good day. You can only hope, or wish me one, like around Christmas time, someone says, “I wish you a merry Christmas”. They NEVER say “Have a merry Christmas, since it is a holy holiday, and should not LIE about that. Then again, a DAY is 24 hours....the proper way, would be to offer “the rest of the day”. Therefore, “I hope the rest of your day goes well” would be the the correct way to say it.
  30. joanvillafane Senior Member

    U.S., New Jersey
    U.S. English
    Bert D., <----> improper English?
    Let's not confuse our English learners here.
    Have a good day!
    Have a nice time!
    Have a great vacation!
    Have fun!
    We are not handing anyone anything, merely expressing a wish (as MyRomance said in post #28)

    < Edited to remove unneeded comment. Cagey, moderator. >
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2015
  31. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Exactly. Expressing our wish, or hope, or auspice — certainly not a suggestion :confused:.

  32. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    "Have a good day" is a command....like you are ordering someone to have a good day. "You have a good day" is also like ordering a person to do what you are commanding. And....did you notice you cannot personalize "Have a good day" with the pronoun "I"?....i.e "I have a good day" obviously does not sound correct like "I hope",or "I wish", which is passive, personal, and more polite. The old expression "Tell a lie often enough, and you will start to believe it" is a good example of what you are witnessing in "Have a good day".
  33. srk Senior Member

    South Bend, Indiana
    English - US
    I thought you said "Have a good day" is what you would say when handing someone a good day. Now it's an order.

    Don't have a cow, Bert.
  34. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    You can do both....i.e., I could hand you a gun, and order you to shoot yourself. However, it is obvious you cannot hand anyone a 'Good day" which is why I am calling it a LIE.
  35. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    "Have a good day" is no more an order than saying "Have a cookie" is ordering you to have a cookie. It's almost always a mistake to overanalyze conventional expressions.
  36. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    Thank you for proving my point. You are telling someone to "Have a cookie" while handing it to them. You still cannot hand anyone a "Good day"while telling them to. Besides....a cookie is tangible....a "Good day" is intangible. I repeat....you cannot hand anyone a "Good day".
  37. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    No, I don't think I am proving your point. Who says there's only one meaning for have? There is a long list of definitions in the dictionary.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  38. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    Maybe so, however, none of which would make "Have a good day" correct. Why not eliminate all the semantics, and "wish" someone a "Good day"? Is it so hard to say "I wish you a good day" which would include the pronoun "I"? How about "I hope the rest of your day goes well"?...."I hope the rest of your day is enjoyable.",....or "I hope you enjoy the rest of your day". Either one of these phrases would be correct, and safe from scrutiny.
  39. panjandrum

    panjandrum Quondam Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello Bert D. - and welcome.
    Is this, perhaps, a pet peeve of yours? None of the rest of us are quite so obsessively opposed to this expression. It isn't generally helpful to analyse commonplace expressions to death. I might moan about 'Have a good day,' or 'Have a nice day,' on grounds of platitudinity, but any complaint on grammatical grounds is a lost cause.
  40. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Maybe you should try actually reading some dictionaries, Bert ...

    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English:
    - to experience, undergo, or endure, as joy or pain: Have a good time. He had a heart attack last year.

    Collins Concise English Dictionary:
    - to experience or undergo: to have a shock.

    Those definitions relate specifically to cases such as "Have a good day"; there are then all the other possible definitions of "have" that relate to instances where you cannot "hand" anyone the thing in question. In the Collins dictionary, for instance, only five out of 31 meanings could involve physically giving something to someone. The situation is similar in the OED, the AHD, and pretty much any other dictionary you care to name.

    Try telling Judy Garland or Frank Sinatra that :rolleyes:: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

    [Edit: typo]
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  41. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    Well, the best way to understand, or accept this phrase, is to call it an "idiom" meaning a group of words put together to describe an entirely different meaning than exactly what it says. An example of an idiom would be a phrase like "Shape up, or ship out". For some reason the British have a hard time accepting this cliche "Have a good day". In fact they consider it highly offensive if used in that Country. To be honest, I also side with their reasoning.
  42. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Where on earth do you get that idea?:confused: I have no problem accepting it, and I have never heard of anyone considering it offensive (not even slightly, never mind highly)!

    If it's said as a platitude, as Panj mentioned, (for instance, uttered automatically by a sales assistant), then it's pretty pointless. But if it's said sincerely, I see no problem. It's certainly not the use of "have" that makes it a cliché.

    I don't see it as an idiom at all, given the literal dictionary definition of "have" in such expressions, and the normal meanings of "good" and "day". It is, however, perfectly idiomatic. That's more than I can say for "I wish you a good day", which I'd be surprised to hear from a native speaker; or which, at best, would sound rather stilted.

  43. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I have read older novels (Dickens' era, perhaps?) in which "I wish you a good day" is actually used as a polite way of saying "I don't like you and I don't want to spend any more time around you." Perhaps that meaning is dependent on context and tone of voice, though. Anyway, it's definitely stilted. For those who don't like the way "Have a good day" sounds, what's wrong with "I hope you have a good day"?

    (Edited to remove references to "Have a nice day" since, as Wordsmyth points out below, the thread is actually on "Have a good day." Oops!)
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  44. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    A good example is in a scene from The Way to Keep Him, a comedy by Arthur Murphy, 1760 (a bit pre-Dickens;)): Sir John, interrupting Beverly twice, says "I wish you a good day", dismissively each time. Then "I have not a moment to spare; my family is waiting dinner. Sir, I wish you a good morning." [Exit Sir J.]

  45. Bert D. New Member

    English USA
    I copied the following from a blog.....

    This is, as you noted, a very American idiomatic phrase which apparently dates from the 1970s. One dictionary includes the phrase in its definition of good, but notes it is American English. An idiom dictionary further refers to the phrase as a cliche. Interestingly, the only idiomatic definition they give is from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs.

    One should be cautious when using this phrase, however. A blog found that the British explanation of the origins of the phrase were:

    Have a nice day Meaning: A salutation, ostensibly to offer good wishes. In fact a banal and insincere form of words given to anyone and everyone. Evidence of the meaninglessness of the sentiment is the fact that it is even used last thing at night when the opportunity to have a nice day has all but disappeared. Origin: US origin - around 1970s.
    The blogger notes that British people may construe this parting phrase as highly sarcastic, so it may be best to keep its use to the American English arena.
  46. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The "this" referred to in that forum (and in the links therein) is the expression "Have a good one", and much of the discussion revolves around what "one" might stand for. It has nothing to do with any British view of "Have a good day".

    The blog to which that forum poster links refers to the specific expression "Have a nice day", not "Have a good day". In my experience those two expressions are poles apart in terms of cliché status, and this present thread is not about "Have a nice day". Furthermore, the blogger says that he found that "meaning" on a British website, but doesn't quote his source. I've searched in vain for a British website that might be the source, and couldn't find one anywhere. What I did find was a number of American sites regurgitating it (all probably from the same phantom source). Such a quotation with no source reference has zero value.

    I wish you a good remainder of your present 24-hour period, Bert. (To everyone else, from the bottom of my British heart, I say: Have a good day!:))


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