Looking for a way to say ‘congrats’ to a French friend or family member?
Whatever the achievement or milestone you’re congratulating, you’ll want to use the right word to show how happy you are for them.
Stuck trying to figure out which word is perfect for the occasion? Read on.
How do you say congratulations in French?
You’ll most frequently hear félicitations in contexts where someone wants to congratulate someone in French.
It’s the term that can be used for both formal and informal contexts and will brighten the achiever’s day whether they’re a family member or a colleague.
When to use félicitations in its verb form and how to conjugate it
Now, one thing to recognise about this word félicitations is that it can also be used as a verb.
You might hear native French speakers saying je te félicite which literally translates to “I congratulate you”.
You’ll also hear the formal equivalent of this phrase, which is je vous félicite, which translates to English as “I congratulate you” as well. So, what’s the difference?
One of these phrases uses te and the other uses vous.
The version that uses te is fine for informal situations, and the vous expression is required when speaking to people you don’t know.
What’s more, there are several different conjugations of the verb féliciter.
Take a look at the table below to learn how to conjugate this verb:
|French pronoun||Conjugated verb féliciter||English|
|Il, elle, on||Félicite||He, she, it, we congratulates|
If you wanted to write a card to someone from your whole family and congratulate them on passing their driving test, you would use the nous form of the verb:
Nous te félicitons d’avoir réussi ton test.
Different ways to say congratulations in French
Now that we’ve covered félicitations, let’s have a look at some other ways to say “congratulations” in French:
While you might have carried out a quick Google translate search and found that chapeau translates to English as “hat” this is a way to say “congrats” in French.
Using chapeau on its own does therefore mean “hat” but it comes from the expression je te tire mon chapeau, or “I take my hat off to you”.
Over time, this expression got shortened, which is why nowadays you’ll only hear the word chapeau on its own.
If you’re playing a chess game or competing against someone, and you win the game, chances are you’ll hear this French expression.
Bien joué means “well played” in English.
It’s a congratulations that doesn’t have any frills—more of an acceptance that someone has done something with style, as opposed to a heavy-duty “congratulations”.
So, if you’re playing a game or taking part in a football match against a rival team, and they score a goal, that would be the right time to say bien joué.
Need a French expression for the phrase “best of luck”?
The one you’re going to need is bonne réussite.
Bonne réussite means “good success” or “best success” in English.
If you want to say “good luck” and kind of congratulate someone just before they have an exam, a driving test, or have a big task to complete at work, you can use bonne réussite to convey it.
So, although this doesn’t literally translate as “congratulations” in French, use it as a “congrats” before the event has even taken place.
It’s like the phrase “knock someone dead”.
Tous mes voeux
You know someone who is about to get married, this is the right moment to use this expression.
Tous mes voeux literally translates to English as “all my wishes”.
It’s used so frequently in circumstances like these and, even though its literal translation isn’t “congratulations” it conveys sentiment and admiration just as “congratulations” does.
Keep in mind that tous mes voeux can also apply to other circumstances.
If you have a friend whose mother isn’t doing too well in terms of their health, you might say tous mes voeux, j’espère qu’elle va bien, which means “all my wishes, I hope she is well”.
Je tiens à vous féliciter pour
Now, this phrase is something that you’ll probably hear in formal circumstances, such as at work or from someone who you don’t know.
You can tell it’s a formal one because of the vous form that is used.
What does je tiens à vous féliciter pour mean?
This translates to English as “I have to congratulate you for” or “I have got to congratulate you on”.
Notice that this phrase must be completed.
The speaker must state the thing they are congratulating the achiever for.
For example, if someone increased the sales of a product by five percent, you can expect their boss to say je tiens à vous féliciter pour votre record de ventes exceptionnel, or “I must congratulate you on your exceptional sales record”.
Tous mes compliments
You can modify this expression for saying “congrats” in French by altering the possessive pronoun.
For instance, if you wanted to congratulate someone from the perspective of your entire team at work (especially since this phrase is ideal for formal circumstances), use tous nous compliments, which means “all our congratulations”.
For example, if your senior software engineer completed a sprint in record time or your marketing assistant helped the team with a content strategy that enhanced the traffic to a particular website, you might say tous mes compliments pour votre travail exceptionnel.
This means “all my congratulations for your exceptional work”.
Je suis fier de toi
A mother might say to their child that they are “proud of them” when they achieve something, which is the English equivalent of the phrase je suis fier de toi.
Note that this French expression is informal. You wouldn’t hear it in a boardroom or an international conference meeting between clients and business people.
It’s ideal for very close friends and family and shouldn’t really be used at work or when speaking with a stranger.
You can also alter the conjugation of this expression and change the subject.
If you wanted to tell your child that their grandparents are proud of them, change the conjugation of the pronoun to “they’re”, which would be ils sont fiers de toi.
If you’re two parents who are particularly proud of your child, you can alter the conjugation to nous sommes fiers te toi.
Picture someone taking their hat off and bringing it down from their head in a congratulatory sort of celebratory “hats off to you” movement and you have the essence of this phrase chapeau bas.
This one translates to English as “hat down”, and means the same as chapeau.
Use chapeau bas when you want to say something like “what a remarkable success or achievement!”
This is a very easy one to remember.
Bon travail literally means “good work”.
It’s a nice way to congratulate someone on an achievement, and you might hear it in a French course from a teacher if you’ve done great work.
For instance, if you were asked to complete an essay in French, and you wrote it very well but they found a couple of small grammatical or spelling errors, your French teacher might say bon travail dans l’ensemble, which translates to English as “good work in general”, or “good work overall”.
Heard in Italy and Spain, bravo is another way to say “congrats” in French.
Say you’ve received news that your friend has learned how to cook a new meal, you can use the word bravo to congratulate them on their culinary expertise, and say bravo mon ami pour l’apprentissage de cette recette, which means “bravo my friend for learning this recipe”.
If your sibling has been practicing how to play the piano and has learned a new skill, you might also use bravo in a similar way, and say bravo pour l’apprentissage de cette chanson, meaning “bravo for learning this song”.
Congratulate someone in French to practice the language and brighten their day
The best way to practice and memorise these ways to say “congrats” in French is to just use them often in your speech and listen to how they’re pronounced.
Speaking and listening is a critical part of practicing, so schedule some time to speak with French native and listen to how they pronounce them.
But if you’re starting from zero knowledge, begin by using these ways to say congratulations in French in sentences and thinking about the contexts that you should use them in.
You could also put them on flashcards and write the literal English translation on the other side so you can memorise them more easily.
If you’re an intermediate learner, watch French films and listen to how these ways to say “congrats” in French are used in the dialogue.
Know any other fun ways to say “congrats” in French?
Share it below.