What is the passive voice construction for the "Happy Birthday" song?

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday Dear You.
Happy birthday to you.

Passive voice construction is formed with a form of the "to be" verb (or "be") and a past participle.

"To be" ("be") conjugations: is, are, am, was, were, has been, have been, had been, will be, will have, will have been, being.

A past participle is a form of a verb that ends in -ed. Some past participles are wished, played, and irregularly formed sang.

A past participle differs from a present participle in that a present participle is a verb form that ends in -ing, like wishing, playing, singing. Both forms of participles can be used in forming verb tenses and aspects, as adjectives and at the head of participle clauses. Past participles can have the additional syntactical function of forming passive voice. Present particles can have the added syntactical function of forming gerunds (present participle verb acting as a noun).

Happy birthday in passive voice could be:

You were wished a happy birthday.
You were wished a happy birthday.
Dear You has been wished a happy birthday.
You were wished a happy birthday.

Some other possibilities for passive construction are: You are wished + Dear You is wished; She/He was wished + Dear You is wished; You have been wished + Dear You has been wised; You will be wished + Dear You will be wished; You will have been wished + Dear You will have been wished. (Tricky to sing!)

eNotes has no Study Guides available on passive construction, but you can see further information on The Myths and Methods of passive voice construction at the links below.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

An interesting question. It is difficult to change the voice of the sentence, "Happy birthday". I call it a sentence because it is used as a complete communication. But in reality, the phrase "Happy birthday" is as much of a sentence as a greeting like good morning or good afternoon. If we want to change the voice of the phrase from active to passive or from passive to active, we will have to begin converting the phrase into a regular sentence. For example we may convert it into a sentence like "I wish you a happy birthday". This sentence can easily be converted into a sentience with passive voice. But when that sentence in passive voice is to be converted back into a short phrase, the best suited phrase would again be "Happy birthday". So, trying to convert voice of a phrase like "Happy birthday" is a meaningless exercise.

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