How to Say Congratulations in French (The Right Way!)

Félicitations ! (= Congratulations !)

So your French friend had a baby (or a grandchild.) Or she achieved something great, such as finally finishing writing her novel. Or her daughter just got her degree.

How can you give congratulations in French?
What are everyday sentences that French people actually use?
What common expression should you NOT use?
(Hint: It’s “Bien fait !” It nevers means “Well done!”)

C’est parti. (= Let’s go!)

Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?

1 - Congratulations in French: basics

Basic ways to congratulate someone in French:

  • Félicitations ! = Congratulations.
  • Bravo ! = Bravo !

Or even:

  • Trop fort ! (informal) = “Too strong!” (literally) = Very good!
  • Chapeau ! (a bit old-fashioned) = “Hat” (literally) = “Congrats!” (with surprise and admiration)

Use these basic French ways to congratulate someone: with your French friends, in your conversation groups, or when travelling in France.

But never use Bien fait to congratulate someone!
Yes, literally, Bien fait means “Well done.” But it’s never used as “Well done!” in spoken French by itself. Instead, it means: “Serves you right.” = “You deserved that bad thing that happened to you.” We also say Bien fait pour toi !

For instance:
Tu as ri quand je suis tombée de vélo. Et maintenant c’est toi qui es tombée ! Ha, bien fait!
= You laughed when I fell off my bike. And now you fell off too! Ha, serves you well!

Bien fait is a taunt. Don’t use it and accidentally make fun of someone – it would be an embarrassing mistake.

Click here to learn more: Why You Should Never Say “Bien Fait” — French Vocabulary

Trop (= too much) is a common informal French way of saying Très (= very) with emotion and surprise.
Bravo is also used when applauding a performer. And in everyday life, it’s often used sarcastically!

2 - Congratulations in French: longer sentences

Congratulate better by mentioning their success:

  • Bravo pour ton diplôme ! (= Congratulations for getting your degree.)
  • Félicitations pour la naissance de ton petit-fils. (= Congratulations for your grandson’s birth.)
  • Martin, j’ai appris que tu t’es fiancé ! C’est merveilleux ! (= Martin, I heard you got engaged! That’s wonderful!)

You can also share how you learned about the good news:

Céline, ton père m’a dit que tu as marqué plus de buts que toutes tes coéquipières au cours de la saison. Bien joué !
= Céline, your dad told me you scored more goals than all your teammates this season. Well played! / Well done!

Lola, je viens de voir ton statut Facebook. Je suis si contente d’apprendre que tu vas avoir un bébé ! Quelle bonne nouvelle !
= Lola, I’ve just seen your Facebook status. I’m so happy to learn that you’re going to get a baby! What a piece of good news!

Yes, smile and be enthusiastic ! And share how you feel:

  • Je suis si contente. = I’m so happy.
  • Je suis trop contente ! (informal) = I’m very happy!
  • Je suis tellement heureuse. = I’m so happy.
  • Je suis très heureuse pour toi ! = I’m very happy for you!
  • Je suis fière de toi. = I’m proud of you.

Just like I’m proud of you for walking through this lesson with me! Félicitations!

You can also send your congratulations in a postcard, or even an email. A nice word from you to your French friends, especially if you wrote it in French, will be a very nice touch.

Click on the links below to learn more about that and more:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next lesson!


→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Join the conversation!

  • Comme “bien fait” en français, en anglais on dit parfois – “Way to go!” – quand quelqu’un fait un faux pas.

  • Bravo for this wonderful lesson, Géraldine. I hope it is clear to everyone that the adjectives in your examples (e.g, contente, heureuse, fière) presuppose that a female is speaking. The adjectives would be different for a male speaker, n’est-ce pas?

    • Bonjour Robert,

      En effet, indeed, the spelling of these adjectives would be different for a male speaker.
      Je suis content / Je suis contente

      Bonne journée,

      Fabien
      Comme Une Française Team

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