happy birthday in italian

It’s Party Time! Your Guide to the “Happy Birthday” Song in Italian

You’ve been learning Italian for months—nay, years!

You mastered the alphabet and the numbers, and on your trip to Italy, you successfully used all the phrases you’ve been practicing.

Oh, and did I mention that Italian grammar seems like a breeze to you?

But, while you’re sitting at an Italian cafe one day, you hear a familiar tune behind you.

You hear singing behind you.

You know the tune, but the words are completely different.

You turn around and see that there’s a cake and some candles on the table, and people are singing “Happy Birthday,” but it’s in Italian…

And you don’t know the words.

“Happy birthday!” is one of the most universal phrases in any language. Many countries worldwide have days and traditions dedicated to celebrating birthdays, and Italy is no different.

While the Italian song has a slightly different direct translation into English, it has the same melody as the English “Happy Birthday Song.”

Let’s delve deeper into the Italian “Happy Birthday” song!


It’s Party Time! Your Guide to the “Happy Birthday” Song in Italian

“Tanti auguri a te!” (“Happy Birthday to You!”)


First things first: the “Happy Birthday” song is called “Tanti auguri a te” (“Happy Birthday to You”) in Italian! You can check out a rendition of the Italian “Happy Birthday” song using FluentU!


FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into language learning experiences.

With FluentU, you can use interactive subtitles to find out more about any word in the “Happy Birthday” song—or in any video—and see it used in example sentences and other videos.

Then, practice what you’ve learned with customized vocabulary lists, dynamic flashcard sets and fun quizzes!

Did you take a minute to listen to the “Happy Birthday” song in Italian?

It sounds pretty similar to the English version, right?

Well, the lyrics are similar as well! Check them out:

Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)
Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)
Tanti auguri [name] (Happy birthday, [name])
Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)

In the space in the third line, it’s customary to say the name of the person whose birthday you’re celebrating. For example, if you were singing the song to me, you’d say “Tanti auguri a Michael” (“Happy birthday, Michael”).

In the video, they’ve inserted the word felici, which means “cheerful ones,” but feel free to customize it however you want. You can even say more than one name, connecting them with the Italian word e (and).

A Closer Look at the “Happy Birthday” Italian Lyrics

While “Tanti auguri a te” may seem like a fairly simple song, there are quite a few grammatical elements at play here that make it more complicated. Let’s take a closer look at them!

The first piece of this puzzle can be seen in the first two words of the song: tanti auguri. While Italians use the phrase tanti auguri to wish someone a happy birthday, this phrase doesn’t directly translate to the English words “Happy Birthday.” In fact, it more directly translates to “many wishes.”

To break the phrase down even further, auguri is the plural form of the word augurio, a noun that means “wish” or “greeting.” In this particular circumstance, the -o at the end of the word becomes an -i (its plural ending) to show that we’re sending more than one wish to the birthday person. Having said that, the real plural is augurii, but the last -i is dropped in this word’s case.

Similarly, the word tanti is in its plural form too. It’s the plural form of tanto (many). While not a noun like augurio, tanto must also change its ending to show it’s plural because it’s modifying the plural word auguri.

After tanti auguri, we have the words a te (to you). For starters, the word te means “you.” It’s related to the Italian word tu (you), but in this case, we must say te instead of tu because it’s the indirect object of the sentence following the preposition a (to).

Italian Vocabulary Related to Birthdays

While knowing the lyrics to the “Happy Birthday” song in Italian is great, the song isn’t all that birthdays are about, is it? Birthdays include celebrations, with cake and friends and fun! So, before you get ready to party, learn the vocabulary you’ll need to make this Italian birthday a success.

Get started with these words and phrases:

  • Il compleanno (the birthday)
  • Buon compleanno (happy birthday) — This is another common way to wish someone a “happy birthday” in Italian.
  • Quanti anni hai ? (How old are you?) — You can also ask the formal version: quanti anni ha ?
  • Ho ____ anni. (I am ____ years old.) — Put the number of your age in the blank.
  • Il regalo (the present)
  • La candelina (the candle)
  • La torta (the cake)
  • Il festeggiato (the birthday boy) — You could also use the feminine version, la festeggiata, to refer to the “birthday girl.”
  • Il biglietto (the birthday card)

Other Renditions of the “Happy Birthday” Song in Italian

Now that you’ve learned “Tanti auguri a te” and you’re ready to celebrate a birthday, let’s pick the version that’s perfect for the party. Check out these versions of the song below.

Il Volo

Il Volo is an Italian operatic pop trio whose name means “The Flight.” You may have heard of them before; they’re pretty famous in Italy and have also toured around the world. In fact, they even represented Italy in the 2015 Eurovision contest!

For this rendition of “Tanti auguri a te,” they perform in their signature operatic style with some fantastic harmonizing at the end. The lyrics are identical to the traditional version, so feel free to belt along!

If you’re interested, other famous Il Volo songs include “Grande amore” (“Great Love”) and their renditions of Christmas songs.

Marcella Bella

Like Il Volo, Marcella Bella is a famous Italian singer who continues to create music to this day. Her rendition of “Tanti auguri a te,” however, was released in 1987.

While the chorus of the song follows the lyrics of the traditional birthday song, two additional verses have been added. But let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t sing this version to someone I liked! In fact, the song is apparently for an ex-lover.

If you’re interested in those verses, they’re full of birthday vocabulary, such as compleanno (birthday) and la festa (the party). They also contain lyrics like non è il tuo compleanno, non so dove sei” (“it’s not your birthday, I don’t know where you are”).

Orchestra Roberto Scaglioni

Orchestra Roberto Scaglioni is an Italian band that has released over 30 albums throughout their career.

This version of “Tanti auguri a te” keeps the main lyrics of the original during the chorus. However, other lyrics are added as well. In contrast to Marcella Bella’s version, the sentiment of this version remains positive. For example, the song opens with “oggi è il tuo compleanno, e noi siamo qui per te” (“today is your birthday, and we are here for you”).

The tune of this song is also different from the traditional version, and it contains lyrics related to celebration and friendship.

Carmela Bruno Mancuso

Are you ready to sing Tanti auguri a te” on your own? Well, this version by Carmela Bruno Mancuso is an instrumental song accompanied by piano. In fact, its reasonable tempo makes it a great version for singing along.

Even better, some of the words are presented on the screen, making it great for karaoke, and they’re repeated three times.


Looks like you’re all ready to have an awesome birthday party or sing along at someone else’s. Get your cake, candles and invitations ready!

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