“How do you say Congratulations in French?” is a great question.
As a French coach, I think it’s a simple way to make new friends or celebrate the friends you already have. Because who doesn’t like being congratulated for something?
Saying Congratulations in French is very easy too!
You just need to take a few things into consideration like:
- Are you in a formal or informal setting?
- Are you congratulating family, friends or people you barely know?
- Why are you saying congratulations exactly?
In this article, you’ll learn the different ways to say Congratulations in French and how to use them.
Let’s get started!
When you want to keep it simple: Félicitations
This is the general way to say Congratulations in French.
You can use félicitations as a one-word sentence, by simply saying it after you hear some good news.
It’s pronounced as Feh-lees-ee-ta-see-on or Felleecy-Taseeyon
As a beginner, it’s important to start with simple sentences you can always remember, so you don’t complicate things.
You can also use félicitations in a sentence.
- Félicitations pour votre promotion. (Congratulations on your promotion)
- Félicitations pour ton diplôme. (Congratulations on your degree)
Note: There’s no abbreviation for félicitations, contrary to its English counterpart where you can abbreviate Congratulations by Congrats.
When you want to be informal: Bravo or Chapeau
These are the most common informal ways to say Congratulations in French.
Although “Bravo” is not originally a French word and comes from Italian, it has become a very common way to congratulate people in French.
Bravo like félicitations can be used in most situations, with family, friends and even people you don’t know well. In fact, it’s probably the most standard of the informal ways to say Congratulations in French.
Take a look at the simple dialogue below:
- Je viens de finir mon rapport de stage. (I’ve just finished my training report)
- Bravo ! (Congratulations/Well done!)
Here’s another example:
- Bravo à vous tous pour le trophée ! (Congratulations to you all on the trophee!)
Don’t get confused when someone says this to you. They mean well.
Chapeau is the equivalent of “Hats off”, used as a symbol of respect or appreciation.
- Chapeau ! La robe te va bien. (Congratulations! The dress looks good on you.)
- Tu as eu ton permis? Chapeau ! (You got your driver’s license? Congratulations!)
As you can see Chapeau is usually a one-word sentence.
Chapeau can be used informally whenever you want to say congratulations to someone, particularly when you wish to compliment them on something they did.
Which preposition should you use with Congratulations in French?
Depending on what you want to say, you’ll use two different prepositions right after Congratulations in French,
If you want to say congratulations to someone, use the preposition à.
- Félicitations à ton ami. (Congratulations to your friend)
- Bravo à ton ami.
If you want to say congratulations on or for something, use the preposition pour.
- Félicitations pour ta nouvelle maison. (Congratulations on your new house)
- Bravo pour ta nouvelle maison.
How to say Congratulations in French using a reflexive verb?
You can use reflexive verbs on two distinct occasions.
When you want to congratulate yourself
Whenever you do something you are proud of, you are surely allowed to congratulate yourself!
To do that, you need to use the verb féliciter (to congratulate) and place the reflexive pronoun me before the conjugated verb.
- Je me félicite pour la réalisation de mon projet ! (I congratulate myself for the completion of my project!)
- Je dois me féliciter pour ce travail, c’est un véritable succès ! (I have to congratulate myself on this task, it’s a real success!)
When you want to congratulate someone else
To congratulate someone else, use the verb féliciter with the reflexive pronouns te or vous.
- Je te félicite
- Je vous félicite
Both mean “I congratulate you”, but the first one is informal, the second one is formal.
To apply it in a full sentence, you could say:
- Je te félicite pour tes résultats. (I congratulate you on your results)
- Je vous félicite pour votre promotion. (I congratulate you on your promotion)
Other common ways to say Congratulations in French
There are many ways to congratulate someone in French. Here are more expressions worth knowing.
Bien joué in English means “Well played/Well done”. It’s rather informal.
You can use it when someone does something great or when they make a good decision.
- Je suis embauché. (I’m hired)
- Bien joué ! (Well done)
Bon travail is another French expression which means “Good work”.
- Je tiens à vous remercier. Bon travail ! (I would like to thank you. Good job!)
Tous mes compliments
This means “My sincerest congratulations”.
You may use this anytime you wish to congratulate someone very formally. It’s perfect!
● Tous mes compliments pour vos performances extraordinaires. (My sincerest congratulations on your amazing performance.)
Beyond just Congratulations
Sometimes, saying congratulations isn’t enough. Especially when you really want to express your excitement. So you should add something more!
A few common phrases you can say after the initial expression of congratulations are:
- Je suis content(e) pour toi/vous ! (I’m happy for you!)
- On va fêter ça ! (Let’s celebrate!)
- Je suis si fier de toi ! (I’m so proud of you!)
Obviously, it is more appropriate to use these when you are speaking with your friends and family.
- Félicitations pour ton examen, Julie ! Je suis fière de toi ! (Congratulations on passing your exam, Julie ! I’m proud of you !)
- Bravo pour ton nouveau projet ! Je suis contente pour toi ! (Congratulations on your new project! I’m happy for you!)
Congratulations in France and cultural differences
Keep in mind that while French people celebrate their victories and life achievements, they may have a more reserved way of expressing excitement than many other countries.
For example, when Americans say Congratulations, it may be followed by a cheer, a scream or a hug. The same is true about most European countries.
In some parts of Africa, you may even get a happy dance from your family and friends.
But French people usually don’t display emotions this way. Why? Because to them, it’s fake.
In France, you can congratulate someone in a slightly raised voice if the news is exciting, but nothing more, except for a handshake (in some professional situations) or a kiss on the cheek (with friends and family).
So if you ever want to congratulate a French person, do it calmly and offer a sincere smile.
The bottom line
Now you know exactly how to say Congratulations in French.
You are more than prepared to celebrate important accomplishments and life events with colleagues, friends and family.
But if you ever get lost, remember to take it easy and start by using the simplest words and phrases:
- Félicitations ! (Congratulations!)
- Félicitations pour … (Congratulations on …)
Yes. So, there you have it. Félicitations!