Tuesday, 30 October 2012

When Was Your Birthday?


This post deals with talking about the past in general, and saying when was your birthday in particular.


Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or colleague. You are talking about birthday celebrations. The other person does not know when your birthday is, but realising that your birthday has been some time ago, says to you: "when was your birthday?"

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Cuándo fue tu cumpleaños?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
¿Cuándo fue su cumpleaños?


The question is an invitation for you to say when your birthday was. When you say when your birthday has been, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question.

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Mi cumpleaños fue el martes (my birthday was on Tuesday)
  • Mi cumpleaños fue ayer (my birthday was yesterday)
  • Mi cumpleaños fue anteayer (my birthday was the day before yesterday)
  • Mi cumpleaños fue en enero (my birthday was in January)
  • Mi cumpleaños fue el dos de enero (my birthday was on January second)
  • Mi cumpleaños fue el lunes dos de enero (my birthday was on Monday January second)

Talking about the past
Please note that the all the examples above refer to past actions which were completed at a time which also belongs in the past. In other words, the periods of time in which the actions in the examples above were completed, i.e. last Tuesday/ yesterday/ the day before yesterday, are also in the past.

However, sometimes you may wish to talk about past actions which were completed at a time which in Spanish belongs in the present. In other words, the period of time in which the actions were completed is still ongoing. Examples of periods of time which in Spanish belong in the present are: today/ this week/ this month/ this year/ etc. In such cases, it is common to use an alternative form of referring to completed actions, as follows:
  • Mi cumpleaños ha sido hoy (my birthday has been today)
  • Mi cumpleaños ha sido esta semana (my birthday has been this week)
  • Mi cumpleaños ha sido este mes (my birthday has been this month)

Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Cuándo fue tu cumpleaños?

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