English Vocabulary: Birthdays

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English Vocabulary: Birthdays Espresso English


birthday vs. anniversary

A person’s birthday is the date when they were born.

We use the word anniversary for the date when two people got married (wedding anniversary), or the date when something special or important happened (anniversary of the founding of a company; anniversary of the end of a war).

Talking about age in English

To say your age, use “I am” or “I’m” – not “I have”:

I’m 30 years old. = I’m 30.

I have 30 years.

On your birthday, we use the verb turn to describe the change in your age:

turned 45 last week.

My son is turning 16 tomorrow.

When talking about kids getting older, we say the kids are growing up. When a kid turns 18 (which is usually the age of adult responsibility), we call this coming of age. 

Adults don’t grow up… adults simply get older. Another way to talk about an adult who has passed middle age (around 40) is to say the person is getting on in years. But if an older adult has a lively, energetic spirit, then we can say the person is young at heart.

Talking about birthday parties in English

On somebody’s birthday, you can say “Happy birthday!” In English, we don’t say “Congratulations” for birthdays.

Another question is “Are you doing anything special to celebrate?”

Some adults have birthday parties. If it’s going to be a really big and fun party, you can call it a birthday bash. On the other hand, some people prefer a low-key get-together – the word “low-key” means relaxed, not intense; and a “get-together” is a casual gathering of people.

At a birthday party, you might find balloons as well as a birthday cake with icing/frosting and sprinkles – and, of course, candles. 

English Vocabulary: Birthdays Espresso English

This cake has chocolate frosting/icing and colored sprinkles (image source)

It’s traditional for the birthday boy or birthday girl (the person whose birthday it is) to blow out the candles. Some people make a wish when they do this.

English Vocabulary: Birthdays Espresso English

Blowing out the candles. (image source)

English Vocabulary: Birthdays Espresso EnglishWhen someone has a birthday, other people often give them gifts/presents covered with wrapping paper. 

If you’re not sure what to give somebody, you can buy a gift certificate or gift card that will allow the person to buy whatever they want at a certain store or restaurant.

Today is my birthday – I’m 30 years old!

In honor of this day, I’d like to make a special request.

I would love to include more “student stories” from Espresso English students on the website.

So if you enjoy my lessons – and especially if you’ve taken a course or bought an e-book – it would be great if you could send me:

  • 3-4 sentences about how Espresso English has helped you
  • Your first name and country
  • A small photo of you, if you want

It would be such a wonderful birthday gift for me to hear all about how my students are benefiting from the website, courses, and books!

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