Happy Birthday! Learn Birthday Vocabulary in French

Happy birthday in French
Learn the common ways to say Happy Birthday in French as well as how to pronounce correctly every word and expression in the context of a French birthday party.
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A birthday is the anniversary of the day on which a person was born. French birthday celebrations tend to be simple. Let’s discover the French birthday vocabulary and how to wish someone a happy birthday.

Happy Birthday in French

How To Wish Happy Birthday In French?

The most common expression for saying happy birthday in French is: Joyeux Anniversaire!

The word joyeux here translates to happy whereas anniversaire means birthday in French.

How to pronounce joyeux anniversaire?

There is a liaison between the two words. The letter -x is pronounced /z/.

Listen how to correctly pronounce joyeux anniversaire in French: joyeux anniversaire.

In French, there is no difference between a birthday and an anniversary. In fact, if you’re talking about the 10th year anniversary of someone’s wedding you can say: Joyeux anniversaire de mariage!

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What does "bon anniversaire" mean in French?

Bon anniversaire means literally have a good birthday! In French, bon means good or well. Listen how to correctly pronounce bon anniversaire in French: bon anniversaire.

How to pronounce bon anniversaire?

There is a liaison between the two words, bon is pronounced like bonne in this French expression.

I wish you a happy birthday in French

The three following sentences have the same meaning. They mean I wish you a happy birthday in French:

  1. Je te souhaite un bon anniversaire!
  2. Je te souhaite un bel anniversaire!
  3. Je te souhaite un joyeux anniversaire!

If you want to be more formal you have to use the pronoun vous: Je vous souhaite un bon anniversaire meaning I wish you a happy birthday!

If you forgot to wish a happy birthday

Don’t worry, if you forgot to wish a happy birthday you just have to add “en retard” at the end.

Example: Joyeux anniversaire en retard! : Happy belated birthday!

Other ways to say happy birthday in French

Je te souhaite un super anniversaire! I wish you a great birthday!

Quelle belle journée pour fêter ton anniversaire! May this birthday be particularly happy!


Basic facts about french birthday

A typical birthday party in France looks like this:

  1. at the end of a meal, someone turns off the lights
  2. all guests sing the French version of Happy Birthday to You
  3. the birthday boy or girl make a wish
  4. he or she blows out candles after
  5. everyone applauds
  6. he or she opens the gifts 

Note that in France, birthday cards tend to be sent by mail from people who aren’t present at the birthday party. It’s unusual to give a card directly with the gift.

French birthday vocabulary

The sections below are a great resource to learn French vocabulary in the context of birthdays and at the same time provide audio recordings to listen to the right pronunciation of these expressions in French.

These are organized by topic and are part of the vocabulary lists useful for French learners. To learn more vocabulary, go check our French vocabulary list.

Birthday vocabulary

Cake birthday vocabulary

French party vocabulary

French gift vocabulary

Age vocabulary in French

Decoration birthday in French

Birthday questions asked in French

As asking questions is an essential skill that goes beyond asking birthday questions, you can also find more about asking questions in French.

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French birthday song

Songs are an appealing way to learn French and to reflect the French culture.

There are many famous French songs to discover and happy birthday is a great start for French learners!

You can sing the Happy Birthday song in French to a friend or relative.

Learn Practical French Today

Now you know the birthday vocabulary and you better understand what you can expect if you’re invited to a French birthday party. Stay simple! In France, theme parties and fancy decorations aren’t the norms. 

I encourage you to consider taking our online French courses and continue to explore the many benefits that Master Your French has to offer. Happy enrolling, French learners!

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