The Appropriate Use of the English Word: “Congratulations!”

Today let’s explore the appropriate use of the English word “Congratulations.” You see, in the English language, it’s not so much about knowing a word, but being able to pronounce it well or spell it correctly. You must also know the right situations to use a specific word correctly.

For this post, it’s the word ‘Congratulations’! I’ll give you some guidelines and tips on when to use this English word correctly.

When to Use ‘Congratulations’

It’s a commonly overused and mis-used word. Here are the situations when it’s appropriate to use the word ‘Congratulations’.

  • Life Milestones such as graduation, engagement, marriage, getting pregnant, and the birth of a baby.
  • Achievements such as opening a new business, landing a job and getting a promotion.
  • Big wins in life such as winning the lottery, getting a top ranking for your blog, receiving an award for the work you have done.

So you can definitely say:

“Congratulations! I heard you are graduating with honors!”

“You’re pregnant?! Oh my gosh, congratulations!!!!”

“I just saw your Facebook post, congratulations on getting engaged!”

Congratulations! What a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple!

I hope the examples above give you a good idea on the proper use of the word Congratulations. It’s important to use them in appropriate situations. Or else it will sound awkward and improper.

Speaking of awkward, let’s discuss when and how NOT use this English word.

When NOT to Use this Word

You may think it’s okay to use congratulations in these situations. But let me point out to you and enlighten you why these are not the right scenarios to be congratulating someone.

  • When you are talking about someone’s physical appearance.

Example: “What a lovely dress! Congratulations!”

You can instead say: “What a lovely dress! You have a great style and fashion sense!”

  • When you greet someone on their birthday.

Example: “Oh, it’s your birthday! Congratulations!”

Really, there’s no need to congratulate that person. He or she will be celebrating his birthday every year, whether you like it or not! A simple “Happy Birthday!” is enough.

  • When you reference a person’s skills.

Example: “You are such a good dancer. Congratulations!”

Similar to physical appearance, you don’t congratulate someone for the skills they have. Just tell them how good you think they are.

You can say: “You danced so well up there! Awesome dancing skills!”

Example: “Congratulations, you are such a great English teacher!”

That sounds really awkward! You can say it this way instead: “You are really good at teaching English! I am so impressed!”

There you have it. Congratulations because you now know when and how to use the word Congratulations! Feeling motivated to improve your English fluency further? Here’s a post that also talks about appropriate words to use and not use.

Have fun!

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