6. Congratulations and wishes

When someone has achieved something, or been fortunate in some way, we say:

Congratulations (on…)

The answer is Thank you or Thanks (informal).

Well done – may also be used about an achievement.

Seasonal greetings include:

Happy/ Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Happy Easter!

In reply the person greeted may either repeat the greeting or say Thank you, (and) (the) same to you.

Note that congratulate and congratulations are not appropriate here. Note also that there is no English greeting which can be used for any festival. The only way of greeting someone on the occasion of a festival not celebrated in Britain (or at least not wildly celebrated) is to use the word wishes, for example:

(Very) best wishes for…

My/ our (very) best wishes for…

The usual birthday greetings are:

Many happy returns (of the day)!

Happy birthday! - more common, especially in informal situations

Congratulations may be used when someone comes of age (now at 18 in Britain) in formal style. Otherwise it is practically never used as a birthday greeting nowadays.

The answer to all these is Thank you.

For engagements and weddings the following forms are used:

Congratulations. - weddings only

I wish you every happiness. –very formal, weddings only

I hope you will be very happy. – semi-formal, weddings only

If we meet someone who has recently has married but whose wedding we didn’t go to, the word marriage is used instead.

Congratulations on your marriage. – very formal

I hear you’ve got married. Congratulations. – informal, semi-formal

Now here are some other wishes for various occasions:

Have a good/ nice holiday. – to someone going away on holiday

Have a good/ nice weekend.

Have a good/ nice time.

Enjoy yourself.

Have a good journey – to someone about to travel somewhere, but not usually when he is going on holiday (Here is Have a good holiday is more usual.)

Good luck!

The best of luck!

The person addressed replies Thank you or Thanks and may add I shall need it.

All the best!

I hope you’ll soon be/ feel better.

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