The most direct way to say “happy birthday” in Italian is “buon compleanno,” but there are actually several expressions commonly used to express birthday wishes. You may also wish to familiarize yourself with other phrases related to birthdays and the Italian version of the birthday song.
Exclaim “buon compleanno!
” This is the most direct way to say “happy birthday” in Italian, and the expression literally translates into “good birthday.”
Buon means “good” and compleanno means “birthday.
Pronounce the entire expression as: bwon kom-pleh-ahn-noh
Wish “tanti auguri!
” This expression does not translate into “happy birthday.” In fact, the Italian word for “birthday” (compleanno) does not appear in this phrase at all. Nonetheless, the expression means “best wishes” and is a popular Italian way to express goodwill to someone on his or her birthday.
Tanti means “many” and auguri is the plural form of the noun augurio, meaning “wish.” The entire phrase literally translates into “many wishes.”
Pronounce this expression as: tahn-tee ahw-goo-ree
Try “cento di questi giorni!
” This is another Italian phrase that you can use to express birthday wishes even though it does not explicitly mention birthdays. Essentially, you’re wishing the birthday boy or girl 100 years of birthdays, or a long life.
Cento means “one hundred,” di means “of,” questi means “these,” and giorni means “days.” Translated directly, the expression says, “One hundred of these days!”
Pronounce this phrase as: chehn-toh dee kweh-stee jeohr-nee
Note that you can also shorten this to “cent’anni” or “a hundred years!”
Pronounce this version of the expression as: chehn-tah-nee
Direct your wishes to the “festeggiato.
” Using this Italian term would be the equivalent of calling someone the “birthday boy” or “birthday girl.” Translated directly, though, it means “the celebrated.”
The term festeggiato is derived from the verb for “celebrate,” festeggiare.
Pronounce this term as: feh-steh-jia-toh
Ask about the person’s age with “quanti anni hai?
” This is an indirect way of asking someone how old he or she is, but the question doesn’t translate directly into “how old are you?” Instead, it uses gentler phrasing, asking the birthday boy or girl, “how many years do you have?”
Quanti means “how many,” anni means “years,” and hai means “have” in the second person singular form.
Pronounce this question as: kwahn-tee ahn-nee ai
Describe an advanced age with “essere avanti con gli anni.
” This phrase essentially means that someone is “getting on in years,” and you would use it in a complimentary way to imply that someone is growing in both age and wisdom.
Essere means “to be,” avanti means “forward,” con means “with,” gli means “the,” and anni means “years.” When strung together, the expression says, “to be going forward with the years,” or less directly, “to be advancing in years.”
Pronounce this expression as: ehs-ser-eh ah-vahn-tee kohn ghlee ahn-nee
Announce your own birthday with “oggi compio gli anni.
” Indirectly, you’re saying “today is my birthday,” but a more direct translation would be “today I fulfill my years.”
Oggi means “today,” compio is the first-person singular form of the verb “to fulfill” (compiere), gli means “the,” and anni means “years.”
Pronounce this sentence as: oh-jee kohm-pioh ghlee ahn-nee
Declare your own age using the “sto per compiere ___ anni” form.
You would generally use this phrasing to say that you’re about to turn into a certain age (filling the blank), but it’s more common among young people than older generations. More directly, it states, “I am to fulfill (number) years.”
To state your age, simply fill in the blank with your new age. For instance, if you’re turning eighteen, you’d say “Sto per compiere diciotto anni.”
Sto means “I am,” per means “to,” compiere means “fulfill” or “complete,” and anni means “years.”
Pronounce this expression as: stoh pehr kohm-pier-eh ___ ahn-nee
Use the familiar tune.
Even though the words differ, you should still sing the Italian “happy birthday” song to the tune of the “happy birthday” song you likely learned in English.
Sing “tanti auguri” for several lines.
The most commonly used lyrics for the “happy birthday” song don’t actually mention birthdays at all. Instead, you’re using the indirect “best wishes” expression in place of “happy birthday” in the standard tune.
You’ll follow the expression with “a te” (ah tee), meaning “to you.”
The song lyrics are:
Tanti auguri a te,
Tanti auguri a te,
Tanti auguri a (NAME),
Tanti auguri a te!
Consider switching to “buon compleanno” instead.
While it isn’t used quite as often, you can technically use the direct “happy birthday” expression in place of the English expression in the standard song.
As with the “tanti auguri” version, you’ll need to follow the phrase with “a te” (ah tee), meaning “to you.”
In this version, the lyrics are:
Buon compleanno a te,
Buon compleanno a te,
Buon compleanno a (NAME),
Buon compleanno a te!