Saying "Happy Birthday" in Spanish

by Pamela Martin

In a multicultural world, sharing a few phrases in more than one language helps build a bond between acquaintances or business contacts. Offering a Spanish-speaker best wishes on his birthday conveys even more caring than simple English words. While wishing someone "¡Feliz cumpleaños!" is the most common way to say it, there are a few other options.

Happy Birthday to You

Most often, you will hear "Feliz cumpleaños" (fay-LEASE coom-play AHN-yohss) at a birthday party, but you might also say, "Felicidades" (fay-lease-ee-DAAD-ayss) or "Felicidades en tu dia" (fay-lease-ee-DAAD-ayss ehn too DEE-ah) to the honoree. Other possibilities include "Que cumplas muchos mas" (kay KOOM-plahss MOO-chohss mahss) -- “May you have many more!” -- or "Que tengas un feliz dia" (kay TEYN-gaas oon fay-LEASE DEE-yah) -- “May you have a happy day!”

How Old Are You, Anyway?

Ask the birthday girl "¿Cuantas años tienes?" (quAHN-tahss AHN-yohss tee-EHN-ayss) to find out just how many times she’s celebrated, if you know her well. If she’s not a close friend or relative, the proper term would be "¿Cuantas años tiene?" (quAHN-tahss AHN-yohss tee-EHN-ay), but you might do better not asking that particular question in that situation.

Wish You Well

Offer your friend good health, money and love for the next year by wishing him "¡Salud, dinero y amor!" (sa-LOOD dee-NAIR-oh ee ah-MOOR). "¡Que le vaya bien!" (kay lay VAYE-ah bee-EHN) lets the celebrator know you wish him well, while "¡Que seas feliz!" (kay SAY-ahss fay-LEASE) tells him, “I wish you happiness.”

About the Author

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.

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