It’s my birthday! (It’s not, but stick with me)… What will you say to me? Happy Birthday? Congratulations? Something else?
It is a bit strange that in English we have one special word to express best wishes, greetings and compliments; Congratulations, but we don’t use that word for birthdays!
We don’t say it at Christmas or Easter or new year, or other holidays. Instead say:
- Happy birthday
- Happy Easter
- Happy Christmas
- Happy new year
- Happy holidays
- Happy Eid
- Happy Hanukkah
- Happy (religious holiday)
- Happy (day of the week!)
- Happy Mothers’/ Fathers’/ Children’s/ Grandparents’/ Teachers’ Day
But we do use congratulations for an achievement, or after hard work
- Congratulations on your exam results/ driving test/ graduation.
- Congratulations on (buying) your new house.
- Congratulations on your new baby.
- Congratulations on your new job/ your promotions/ your retirement.
- Congratulations on your hard work/ your success/ your achievement.
Yes, it’s always with an ‘s’ when it’s a noun. There is a verb to congratulate – you can say “I congratulated him on his graduation,” for example.
Weddings and engagements are slightly different, because they’re not celebrating hard work, but it’s ok to say:
- Congratulations on your engagement/ your wedding/ your wedding anniversary
Maybe wedding anniversaries are an achievement! It’s also ok to say:
- Happy wedding day (but not happy wedding)
- Happy (wedding) anniversary.
What other expressions do we use to express good wishes? Let me know below.