Let's talk about cumpleaños (birthdays) in Spanish!
To kick off our lesson on birthdays in Spanish, let's first recall that the way to say that you are a certain edad (age) in Spanish is tener años (literally "to have years"). So, if you wanted to ask someone how old they were in Spanish, you could say:
¿Cuántos años tienes?
How old are you?
Caption 11, El Aula Azul Los tutti fruttiPlay Caption
(or ¿Cuántos años tiene? when addressing someone as the more formal usted). And if someone asks you how old you are, you could say tengo (insert a number) años, as we see here:
Tengo dieciséis años.
I'm sixteen years old.
Caption 7, Cleer Entrevista a LilaPlay Caption
Like in English, if you wanted to say just "I'm sixteen" without the "years old," you could omit the word años and say simply, "Tengo dieciséis." And, as you could say, "What's your age?" in English, in Spanish, you could say:
¿Tú qué edad tienes? ¿Yo? Veinticuatro.
How old are you? Me? Twenty-four.
Captions 6-7, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8Play Caption
(This question could be translated as "How old are you?" as well). If you need a refresher on the numbers in Spanish, we invite you to read this lesson on The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish.
Finally, if you wish to speak more generally about age in Spanish, you might use adjectives like jóven (young), viejo/a (old),
adolescente (teenage/adolescent), de edad media (middle-aged), or anciano/a (elderly), although you shouldn't forget that la edad es solo un número (age is just a number)!
The Spanish word for birthday, (el) cumpleaños, comes from the verb cumplir años, which means "to have a birthday." Its literal meaning is something like "to complete" or "accomplish years," which makes sense since getting to the next age sometimes feels like an accomplishment! So, to ask someone when his or her birthday is, you might say:
¿Cuándo cumple(s) (años)?
When's your birthday?
Cumple is, of course, the usted (formal "you") form, while cumples is the less formal version with tú. And the word años (years) is in parentheses because including it is optional, as you will see in the following clip that includes both versions (notice that the second instance of cumplir is conjugated with vos, or the informal "you" in certain regions):
¡No lo puedo creer! -¡Yo cumplo mañana! ¿Mañana cumplís años? -¡Sí, mañana! -¡Llegué pa' la fiesta!
I can't believe it! -My birthday is tomorrow! Tomorrow is your birthday? -Yes, tomorrow! -I arrived [just in time] for the party!
Captions 89-90, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 8Play Caption
We also see the first person conjugation with yo (I), which will come in handy when you want to tell someone when your birthday is:
Cumplo el dos de abril.
My birthday is April second.
Note that when this verb is used with a certain number, it means "to turn (a certain number of) years old."
Yo hoy cumplo treinta y seis años;
Today I turn thirty-six;
Caption 46, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1Play Caption
And to say you "just turned" a certain age, you might say:
Tengo nueve años recién cumplidos. [Paula y Ester]
I just turned nine years old. [Paula and Ester]
Caption 3, Paula y Ester Los objetos de PaulaPlay Caption
To conclude this section, let's take a look at slightly more literal options for asking someone when his or her birthday is and saying when yours is, noting that tu and su are the less and more formal ways to say "your," respectively:
¿Cuándo es tu/su cumpleaños? -Mi cumpleaños es el dos de abril
When is your birthday? -My birthday is April second.
Or, you could use the more colloquial, abbreviated form and say merely: "¿Cuándo es tu/su cumple?"
Another, more formal way to ask someone when they "were born" is with the verb nacer, with a question like: "¿Cuándo naciste (tú)?" or "¿Cuándo nació (usted)?" Now, let's see how to say "I was born":
Nací el catorce de enero de mil novecientos ochenta y siete.
I was born on January fourteenth, nineteen eighty-seven.
Caption 18, Raquel Poner una denunciaPlay Caption
As this question might evoke a more detailed response involving your birth month/year, if you need to review how to say these things in Spanish, check out these lessons on How to Write and Say the Months in Spanish and Saying Years in Spanish. And remember that, like in English, Spanish has a different word for "birthdate" (as opposed to "birthday"), which is fecha de nacimiento.
Now that you know how to talk about age and birthdays in Spanish, let's learn some vocabulary to festejar or celebrar (both mean "to celebrate") a feliz cumpleaños (happy birthday).
Perhaps you want to plan a fiesta de cumpleaños (birthday party). The verbs for having, or throwing a party in Spanish include hacer (to make/do), preparar (to prepare), or organizar (to organize) una fiesta (a party):
Karla, sabes, me gustaría hacer una fiesta
Karla, you know, I'd like to have a party
Caption 10, Karla e Isabel Preparar una fiestaPlay Caption
First, you'd better send out some invitaciones (invitations) to the lista de invitados (guest list).
Ya he enviado las invitaciones a todos mis amigos
I have already sent the invitations to all my friends
Caption 3, Marta Vocabulario de CumpleañosPlay Caption
When the guests arrive, they just might come bearing regalos (gifts). The verb for giving a gift is regalar. They might also give you a tarjeta de cumpleaños, which can also be called a tarjeta de felicitación (literally a "congratulations card"). In fact, in addition to telling you "Feliz cumpleaños" on your birthday, Spanish speakers might say "Felicitaciones" (Congratulations) or "Te/le felicito" (I congratulate you).
In terms of the decoraciones (decorations), you've got to have balloons! While globo is probably the most common word for "balloon" in Spanish, different countries have different words like balón, vejiga (which also means bladder!), chimbomba, or just bomba.
O una bomba de papel metalizado.
Or a silver paper balloon.
Caption 1, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 6Play Caption
And don't forget the cake! Words for "cake," which also vary from country to country, include la tarta, el pastel, la torta, and el bizcocho. Let's hear a couple of these in action:
Mirad, aquí está la tarta. Cumplo treinta y seis.
Look, here's the cake. I'm turning thirty-six.
Caption 11, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1Play Caption
Un rol protagónico lo tiene el pastel de la quinceañera
The birthday girl's cake plays a leading role
Caption 33, Venezuela La tradición de los quince añosPlay Caption
In the second example, quinceañera refers to the birthday girl at a special, coming-of-age celebration for girls' fifteenth birthday that is celebrated in many Latin American countries (this word can also refer to the party itself). The video La tradición de los quince elaborates on this custom.
And finally, let's talk about las velas (candles) that go on a birthday cake. The verb for "blowing" them (out) is soplar, during which the cumpleañero/a (birthday boy/girl) should pedir deseos (make wishes):
Y yo que soy la cumpleañera, pido un deseo y soplo las velas.
And I, as I'm the birthday girl, make a wish and blow out the candles.
Captions 13-14, Marta Vocabulario de CumpleañosPlay Caption
And we mustn't forget the "Happy Birthday" song, which shares the same tune in English and Spanish. Let's listen to a couple of different versions in Spanish:
Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños felices Te deseamos a ti
Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthdays We wish to youPlay Caption
Que los cumplas feliz.
Happy birthday to you.
Caption 10, Marta Vocabulario de CumpleañosPlay Caption
That's all for today. To hear many of these Spanish birthday vocabulary words in action and learn some more, you might watch Marta- Vocabulario de cumpleaños. In the meantime, we hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments!