Learning Spanish will give you plenty of opportunities to socialize in a foreign language.
That’s because Spanish is the second most widely spoken language, with more than 572 million speakers across the globe.
Between weddings, job promotions, new babies, and other milestones, you’ll need to know the right words to celebrate life’s important moments. 🥂
However, the phrases you choose will depend on factors like context, location, and your relationship with the person you’re congratulating.
Of course, in a pinch, you may get by with some of the great English to Spanish translation apps out there.
But, there’s nothing like knowing how to respond to good news in Spanish to boost confidence in your language skills.
So, let’s get into it!
Common ways to say congratulations in Spanish
First, let’s take a look at a few of the words and phrases commonly used to say congratulations in the Spanish language.
|Muchas felicidades||Many congratulations|
|Te felicito||I congratulate you|
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Felicidades vs enhorabuena
Of the phrases mentioned above, two of the most common ways to say congratulations are felicidades and enhorabuena.
How often you hear each of these phrases will depend on where you are or who you are communicating with.
Felicidades is used in all Spanish-speaking countries and works in a variety of contexts.
It is often used to celebrate exciting events like birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, or weddings.
Here’s an example:
¡Felicidades por el nacimiento de tu hija!
You can use felicidades in almost any situation that you’d use enhorabuena. However, the situations when you’d use enhorabuena are slightly more specific.
Enhorabuena is more commonly used for congratulating someone for an achievement, like getting a promotion, graduating from university, or accomplishing a challenging goal.
This word is also more common in European Spanish and may be considered slightly more formal depending on the situation.
When you pick the word apart, enhorabuena says something like ‘at a good time,’ but Spanish speakers will take it to mean congratulations or good job!
Take this example:
¡Enhorabuena por su ascenso!
The use of enhorabuena is one of the many differences between European and Latin American Spanish you may notice when learning the language. (Here are seven more.)
Felicidades vs felicitaciones
Now, felicitaciones is another way to say congratulations. However, this option is more common in Latin America and less frequently used in European Spanish.
If you look at the singular of these two words, you can gain a better picture of their meaning and usage.
Simply put, felicidad means happiness in Spanish. 😊
On the other hand, felicitación is the expression of congratulation or satisfaction you feel for something good that has happened in another person’s life.
So, this is why you may hear people saying felicidades, wishing happiness to another on holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries.
Felicitaciones would be more common to say if someone won an award, aced a test, or graduated university.
In European Spanish, felicitaciones is more likely to be substituted with enhorabuena.
How to pronounce congratulations in Spanish
The good thing about Spanish is that it’s a phonetic language. So, once you understand the sounds each letter makes, you’ll know how to say most words correctly.
However, keep in mind that pronunciation in Spanish varies depending on where you are.
For example, it may be helpful to know how to say congratulations in Mexico compared to the European Spanish accent.
Since felicidades is one of the most common words for congratulating someone in Spanish, let’s look at how it is pronounced in each of the accents mentioned above.
In European Spanish, the ‘c’ in felicidades will sound like the pronunciation of ‘th’ in English.
So, the pronunciation in most parts of Spain is feh-lee-thee-dah-dehs.
On the other hand, in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, the ‘c’ in felicidades will sound like an ’s.’
So, the pronunciation of congratulations in Mexico will be feh-lee-see-dah-dehs.
How to conjugate the verb felicitar
Now, to extend congratulations in Spanish, it may also be useful to learn how to conjugate the verb felicitar.
That’s because felicitar means to congratulate.
It is a regular verb that ends in -ar, so it follows the rules of regular -ar verbs.
To keep it simple, let’s conjugate this verb in the present simple tense.
|Subject||Conjugated verb (felicitar)||Example||English meaning|
|Yo (I)||Felicito||Te felicito.||I congratulate you.|
|Tú (you - informal)||Felicitas||Me felicitas.||You congratulate me.|
|Él/ella/usted (he/she/you - formal)||Felicita||Ella te felicita.||She congratulates you.|
|Nosotros (we)||Felicitamos||Te felicitamos.||We congratulate you.|
|Vosotros (you all - informal)||Felicitáis||Me felicitáis||You all congratulate me.|
|Ellos/ellas/ustedes (they or you all - formal)||Felicitan||Te felicitan.||They congratulate you.|
Note that the subject vosotros is only used in European Spanish, while everywhere else sticks with ustedes.
So, you’re unlikely to hear this verb conjugated as felicitáis unless you’re in Spain.
Saying congratulations on different occasions
It’s also smart to look at examples of ways to congratulate depending on the occasion.
After all, you wouldn’t say the same thing to acquaintances who just became new parents as you would a friend who received a job promotion, right? 🙅♀️
So, here are a few examples to help you decide how best to celebrate different events and achievements.
Here’s how you might say congratulations on the new baby to acquaintances:
¡Felicidades a los dos por el nacimiento de su nuevo bebé!
Here’s how you could extend wedding congratulations to friends in Spain:
¡Muchas felicidades en el día de vuestra boda!
Here’s how you might say congratulations on your job promotion:
¡Enhorabuena por tu ascenso, te lo mereces!
How do you congratulate a friend in Spanish?
Of course, if you’re congratulating a friend, you can use more informal expressions that may not be as appropriate for formal or professional settings.
In English, we have congrats as a shortened version of congratulations, but there isn’t an equivalent, shortened version of felicidades or enhorabuena in Spanish.
However, there are still plenty of informal words you can throw in to say congratulations in a more casual way.
Here are a few examples to give you an idea.
¡Muchísimas felicidades por su compromiso, chicos!
Hermano, me acabo de enterar de tu nuevo trabajo, ¡Enhorabuena!
Saying congratulations in formal contexts
There are also many instances when you might prefer to say congratulations in a more formal or professional manner.
For example, say you’re writing a note to express congratulations to your boss for reaching their 20th anniversary with the company.
You could write something like:
Enhorabuena por haber cumplido 20 años en esta empresa. Les deseo muchos años más de éxito continuo.
Or perhaps you’re presenting a prestigious award to a colleague. Before inviting them on stage, you might say:
Me gustaría felicitar cordialmente al ganador de este premio tan prestigioso.
Follow-up phrases for saying congratulations in Spanish
Now, it’s always nice to have something more to say when someone shares their good news with you.
For example, say you’re sending a card to congratulate a friend on earning their master’s degree.
You wouldn’t just write a quick ‘congratulations’ and call it a day, right?
So, here are a few examples of how to extend the sentiment and show people you really care. 🤗
|Qué buena noticia||What good news|
|Feliz día||Happy day|
|Qué alegría||What a joy|
|Bien hecho||Well done|
|Mejores deseos||Best wishes|
|Te deseo lo mejor||I wish you the best|
|Qué emoción/Qué emocionante||How exciting|
How do you express congratulations in Spanish?
As with anything else, the way you say congratulations in Spanish will always depend on context.
It’s an expression of excitement and an excellent opportunity to try out new words and phrases you’ve learned on your Spanish-speaking journey.
Of course, the way you express congratulations, or hear it said, may also depend on where you are. 🌎
Check out our article on Spanish dialect variations and word comparisons to see more examples of how this language varies by location.
And if your congratulations are accompanied by a gift, it may also be helpful to know how to say you’re welcome in Spanish.
Now, it’s time to practice these new phrases so you can commit them to memory.
Muchas felicidades for taking the next step in your effort to master the Spanish language!
What’s a recent experience you’ve had with saying congratulations in Spanish?
Let us know in the comments below!