When did you born?

What does the above question mean? Does it mean

  1. "When did you give birth" or
  2. "When were you given birth to"?

The situation is that I'm trying to ask my friend his birthdate.

Also, how can he answer this question in a grammatically correct way?

  • 1
    Two million results on Google. And guess which one is in the first place. The one you closed ;) – Em1 Jan 29 '13 at 15:20
  • 8
    @Em1: exactly. That is the reason I am posting it here. – ЯegDwight Jan 29 '13 at 15:22
  • @Em1 And the second hit is this question now. – gerrit Jun 11 '15 at 16:45

When did you born?

is not a grammatical sentence, because born is the past participle of the verb to bear, whereas you must use the bare infinitive after did.

The verb to bear means to generate among other things, so your question can be correcty asked using a passive form,

When were you born?

which is equivalent to, but much more frequent than, *When were you given birth to?"

If your friend wants to answer this question in a grammatically correct way, they should answer I was born on ...

  • 2
    +1 Paola, there is also a famous film titled "When Were You Born" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Were_You_Born – user114 Jan 29 '13 at 15:56
  • 1
    A woman bears a child. A child is born by his mother, or is simply born. After all, we all know who does the bearing. (It isn't the child!) This is why "to be born" is always in the passive voice when referring to the child, and in the active voice when referring to the mother. – BobRodes Jul 24 '13 at 4:47

Judging by the context of results from the first few pages of a Google search, it appears to mean (2), "When were you given birth to?".

The grammatically correct form of this question is "When were you born?". Additionally, your friend can answer with something like, "I was born on January 29, 2013.", with his actual birthday instead of today's date.


The correct construction is "When were you born?" It's a "passive" construction because a new-born baby is "done to." Therefore,

Its meaning is 2) "When were you given birth to?"

Given that you referred to your friend as "he", number 1 is basically impossible: "When did you give birth?" (Unless it's a case where a man became a "surrogate mother," which I believe is actually possible.)

The grammatically correct answer is, "I was born on [date of birth].

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