St. Paddy’s (Not Patty’s) Day Grammar Fun

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Around the world, Saint Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated, whether by feasts, parades, great displays of the color green, and much more merriment.

However, there’s one screaming error that prevails year after year …

It’s “Paddy” not “Patty!”

Whenever I see “Happy St. Patty’s Day,” I imagine that the day is March 18th (the day AFTER Saint Paddy’s) and I picture a diner waitress named Patty. Why would this proud waitress have a day named after her? For all of those hungover St. Paddy’s Day celebrators who are so wrecked that they, in awe of this merciful waitress named Patty, say “please” when she asks, “more coffee?”

On the website Paddy Not Patty, Marcus Campbell explains the source of the double “d” in “Paddy” comes from the “Pádraig,” which is an Irish male name deriving from the Latin “Patricius” or the English “Patrick.” Alternately, Campbell continues, “Patty” comes from “Patricia” or is a diminutive form of the “hamburger patty.”

Why not have the best of all of these words? Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day on March 17th, Patty’s Day on March 18th (don’t forget to thank your waiters and waitresses!), and then wait a few months for May 28th to roll around when you can celebrate National Hamburger Day.

Spoken Like a True Irishmen

Although the Irish language is spoken by less than 15% of the national population of Ireland*, it has influenced much of the way Irish citizens speak their dominant language: English. Did you know that the Irish language and other Gaelic-influenced dialects don’t have words for “yes” or “no”? Typically, the below responses would be answered “yes” or “no” by most Anglophones, but not by our Irish brothers and sisters of the world:

  • Can you give me a lift to the station? I can./I can’t.
  • Would you like to get a cup of coffee? I would./I wouldn’t.
  • Do you like green apples? I do./I don’t.
  • Did you hear? I didn’t./I heard.
  • Are you going to the city? I am going./I amn’t.

Did you notice how the response often echoes the verb in the original question? You did! Remarkable, isn’t it? (Response: “It is!”) And that last point: “I amn’t” – what’s the deal there? If we have negative contractions for “be” such as isn’t (is not), aren’t (are not), wasn’t (was not), and weren’t (were not), then why not amn’t (am not)?!

While there are dozens of English accents around the world, it’s also true that there are many Irish accents. So there’s no ONE Irish dialect. But there are a few common traits to replicating the sound; for example:

  • Use elongated vowels, so “how are you?” becomes “ha-ware-ya?” The “au” (in “how”) and “oo” (in “you”).
  • Enunciate or use hard consonants even if the words sound like they are slurred together.

10 Phrases and Slang of the Irish

  1. “Sure look it” – acceptable response for any question, statement, or comment
  2. “A whale of a time” – a good time
  3. “quare” (as in “it is quare warm today”) – quite or very
  4. “put the heart crossways” (in someone) – to give someone a fright
  5. “wrecked” – very tired, usually after a night out
  6. “like hen’s teeth” – something rare
  7. “I will yea” – I definitely won’t
  8. “banjaxed” – broken
  9. “wet the tea” – make tea
  10. “pull your socks up” – get to work

To all of our Expert Authors, have a safe and great St. Paddy’s Day!

* Price, Glanville (2000). Languages in Britain and Ireland. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 10.


Owen Jones writes:

Whoever wrote this drivel should be sacked.

Definitely a Yank and not Irish.

Comment provided March 17, 2014 at 11:54 AM


Peggy Polonus writes:

Only being slightly Irish, I can’t vouch for much about this article, except to say I’ve always thought it was Paddy and not Patty, and was happy to see someone bring that up.

I’m surprised that comments like those of Mr. Jones are not backed up by a good explanation.


Denis writes:

Maith an Cailin!
Fair play to you Vanessa for your Irish words – though the sayings are a bit dated now in Ireland – remonds me of tom Cruise’s Irish sayings.

Comment provided March 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM


Robert Hayes-McCoy writes:

As a 100% true born and bred Irish man, let me tell you: ‘This is not a very good article’.

If I were to translate the above into the Queen’s English, the way most English people would write it, I would say: ‘This is a very bad article.’

Because, as we say here in Ireland… ‘you’re winging it!’

Comment provided March 17, 2014 at 12:57 PM


Owen Jones writes:

I’m Welsh, but it makes me cringe.


Mark writes:

One of my favorite Irish (or is it English) sayings,”oh don’t be such a wanker”.

Comment provided March 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM



Something new I learnt today. Thank EzineArticles.

Comment provided March 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM


Robert Hayes-McCoy writes:

Peggy, you are 100% correct. That’s because ‘St Patty’s Day’ is a ‘makey-up’ name.

In Ireland when you say to someone… ‘you’re winging it’… it means that ‘you are making it up as you go along.’

And that’s exactly the category that the article falls into.

But hey! It’s entertaining.


Comment provided March 18, 2014 at 7:12 PM


Hi Robert,

You are right! We were just having a little fun on this great day!

Glad you all could be great sports, and play along. ;)



azari masili writes:

indeed very entertaining!

Comment provided March 20, 2014 at 2:59 AM


Randall Magwood writes:

For some reason i thought today was April Fools Day. I know nothing about St. Patrick’s day…. except that it’s big in Savannah. Good to know that EzineArticles has a light and fun heart.

Comment provided March 20, 2014 at 9:37 PM


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