The prepositions “on” and “for” both change the meaning slightly when they come after the word “congratulations” in a sentence. We thought we’d cover all the differences in meaning for you to help you understand when to use which one.
Is It “Congratulations On” Or “Congratulations For”?
Congratulations on should be used when we want to wish someone well for something special that happened to them (usually relating to an event of some kind). Congratulations for should be used when we want to praise someone for an achievement.
Is “Congratulations On” Or “Congratulations For” Being Used The Most?
While both phrases come with their own meaning, most people tend to use them somewhat interchangeably. There’s not a major difference between the two words since both are used to congratulate someone on an achievement or success of some kind.
However, if you refer to this graph, you’ll see that “congratulations on” is by far the most popular of the two phrases, and it has been at every point throughout history in the last 200 years.
While both sayings have definitely become less popular over the last century, a lot can be said for the use of “congratulations on” compared to “congratulations for.”
Part of the reason so few people like to use “congratulations for” is because of how it sounds written in a sentence.
- Congratulations for the hard work the staff put in.
Usually, we have to break up the phrase “congratulation for” because if we leave the phrase together, it sounds clunky and doesn’t make for appropriate use of the English language.
- Congratulations to the staff for the hard work they put in.
See how we put “to the staff” between “congratulations” and “for” to make the sentence slightly more palatable.
Can “Congratulations For” And “Congratulations On” Be Used Interchangeably?
As we’ve stated above, you can always use the two phrases interchangeably. The difference between the two phrases is very subtle, and a lot of native speakers aren’t able to tell them apart, so they wouldn’t mind if you used one particularly over the other.
We would suggest using “congratulations on” in most scenarios because it’s the more popular phrase of the two. However, there are some times where “congratulations for” might be more appropriate. They are similar enough to work well no matter what you use.
What Does It Mean To Say Congratulations?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the word with the prepositions in place, it’s time to strip it back a little further and look at the meaning of congratulations.
Congratulations mean you’re giving someone praise for an achievement or celebrating a special occasion with them. It’s most commonly spoken and wished towards someone.
You can’t express congratulations in the same way you might be able to express something like joy. However, you can wish congratulations to someone, to let them know that you’re happy with their achievement and pleased with the work they put in to get there.
The contexts and situations where congratulations are acceptable are common in English. You’ll often find people congratulating other people they know after one of the following achievements:
- Winning or placing well in a sporting event
- Doing really well on a school paper or essay
- Being given a bonus at work or recognition by a boss
- Wishing a couple congratulations for getting married
- Congratulating someone after announcing they’re pregnant
As you can see, the reasons you might say congratulations to someone are in abundance. Any of these situations can apply, as well as plenty more (these are just the most common situations).
Is It “Congratulation” Or “Congratulations”?
While congratulations look like a plural word, you might start to ask yourself whether a singular variation is acceptable. And if it is, does that mean congratulation on and congratulation for are correct?
Congratulations are always used in the plural sense, even when it’s only one good wish you’re given to someone. You never write congratulation in the singular sense. If you do, you typically use it as a verb to “congratulate” someone.
Make sure you never make the mistake of not including the S letter when you’re writing congratulations. It’s widely accepted that the plural form with the S at the end is the only correct way to write the word.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Congratulations For” In A Sentence
Let’s look closer at some examples of when to use the two phrases we started talking about at the beginning of this article. We’ll start with the lesser-known and used form “congratulations for.”
We typically use “congratulations for” to celebrate someone’s achievement. It’s most commonly written with words in between “congratulations” and “for,” though some exceptions can be made.
- I think congratulations for all your hard work are in order.
- When should we congratulate for the work he put in?
- I’d like to congratulate you all for the accomplishment you made today.
- Congratulations for the time you put into this; you deserve it all.
- Congratulations to the staff for what they’ve achieved today.
- Congratulations to you for your latest sporting victory!
- I think congratulations for this achievement are in order!
As you can see, even though it’s not a common saying, we still use it in certain situations. We will mostly see this form when we’ve put a phrase or a few words between “congratulations for” because it helps with the structure and flow of the sentence.
If you write out a sentence with “congratulations for” in it and you can’t see it making grammatical sense, then try replacing the “for” with “on” and see if that helps it. Usually, that’s the solution!
7 Examples Of How To Use “Congratulations On” In A Sentence
So, we’ll show you when the more popular variation is used now so you can start working on congratulating people yourself.
- I’d like to congratulate you on your success.
- Congratulations on the good news from your new job!
- When should we congratulate on the things you mentioned earlier?
- Congratulations on working throughout the summer; now you’ve earned all this time off.
- Hey! Congratulations on first place! You must be so proud!
- We want to congratulate them on their achievement!
- Congratulations on all of the things you did here today!
As you can see, the two phrases are used somewhat interchangeably, while “congratulations on” is also used to show a more direct way to wish someone well for doing something.
“Congratulations on” can also be written with words in between to help ease the flow of the sentence. It mostly comes down to personal preference and what you believe looks the best when writing it.
Is It Correct To Say Congratulations On Your Success?
When we’re talking about success, we’re referring to something pleasant or exciting that happened to someone. If you refer back to the meaning we explained earlier; you’ll see that that means we use “congratulations on.”
“Congratulations on your success” is correct to say because we are talking about something pleasant that happened to somebody as an event rather than an achievement.
Is Congratulations On Your Marriage Correct?
The same can be said when we’re talking about marriage. Since marriage is a happy event for two people, we usually want to congratulate them on getting married.
“Congratulations on your marriage” is grammatically correct and should be the only form you use when you say it.
How Do You Congratulate A Promotion?
If someone gets a promotion either inside your company or in your family, then you might want to know how the best way to congratulate them is.
Just like the two cases we mentioned above, a promotion is a pleasant and happy event that happens to someone. That means “congratulations on” is the correct way to wish them well.
“Congratulations on your promotion” is what you should say if you want to congratulate someone in this way.
How Do You Congratulate Graduation?
There are two different ways you can congratulate somebody for graduating, both of which are included in this article.
If you congratulate graduation as an event, then you say, “congratulations on graduation.” However, if you say congratulations on graduating as a verb, you say “congratulations for graduating” because it is an achievement.
What Should You Reply When Someone Says Congratulates You?
When somebody congratulates you, it can be difficult to find the right words to reply to them. It’s the same thing that happens when anyone compliments you for something. Sometimes the words are hard to find.
The best thing to do is say “thank you” to them to let them know you appreciate their good wishes or congratulations. You can’t go wrong with a simple “thank you.”
Congratulations – Synonyms
Finally, let’s look at some synonyms that you might be able to use in place of congratulations.
- Well done!
This is a simple replacement that works well in all formats.
A good informal synonym for congratulations that mostly works with friends.
- I’m so happy for you!
Expressing our own happiness to celebrate someone else is a great way to congratulate them.
You might also like: Congradulations Or Congratulations? Here’s The Correct Spelling
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.