11 congratulations in German for every occasion

11 congratulations in German for every occasion

by Sandra Köktaş

Updated July 28, 2022

Congratulations! You are taking another step toward improving your German skills. With these 11 ways to say congratulations in German, you will soon  be able to wish your friends and colleagues all the best for whatever milestone they have reached. We will explore different expressions for various settings, so we can rightfully celebrate our German learning accomplishments in more than one way. Learn how to congratulate close friends on birthdays and weddings, acknowledge your co-worker’s success, express your best wishes for upcoming challenges or celebrate the most important holidays. Alles Gute or all the best!

  1. Herzlichen Glückwunsch – Heartfelt congratulations
  2. Gratulation – Congratulations
  3. Ich gratuliere – Congratulations 
  4. Ich freue mich sehr für Dich – I am very happy for you
  5. Alles Gute – All the best
  6. Alles Liebe – Lots of love
  7. Viel Glück – Lots of luck
  8. Viel Erfolg – Lots of success
  9. Die besten Wünsche – Best wishes
  10. Special occasions
  11. Season greetings

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1. Herzlichen Glückwunsch – Heartfelt congratulations

This congratulation fits all milestones from childbirth to a promotion. You can use it in formal and informal settings. Sweet and short, but challenging to pronounce. 

2. Gratulation – Congratulations

Even shorter but more formal is Gratulation. No surprise here: It also means congrats in German and can be used for every achievement. For personal occasions like birthdays or weddings, you might want to opt for more heartfelt congratulations phrases, even if you don’t know the person very well.

3. Ich gratuliere – I congratulate

This little sentence is more commonly used in writing. So this would be your congratulation of choice if you have to write a card to your boss for his wedding. Awkward? Maybe. But necessary, and a good opportunity to improve your German skills.

4. Ich freue mich sehr für Dich – I am very happy for you

A friend passed a difficult exam or is expecting. Then you will probably share their joy and be very happy for them. Tell them. They will appreciate it. 

5. Alles Gute – All the best

Whenever a milestone opens the door to the next step in life, you probably want to wish your friends and colleagues all the best for the next year or the new job they got. 

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6. Alles Liebe – Lots of love

Lots of love expresses the same goodwill, but as love is involved, it comes straight from the heart. You would reserve this personal congratulation for someone close to you.

7. Viel Glück – Lots of luck

Wishing someone lots of luck on their birthday could make them question the sincerity of your good intentions. But if you meet a friend before an exam at university or a colleague before an interview, it is just the kind of support they need. 

8. Viel Erfolg – Lots of success

Lots of success feels even a bit more supportive than lots of luck. After all, it shows a belief in the person’s abilities to give their best.

9. Die besten Wünsche – Best wishes

Best wishes seem to be in order on any occasion. But they are usually expressed to congratulate someone on a milestone or special achievement, not so much in the face of a challenge (like an exam). While ideal to sign off a congratulation card, this kind of congratulations is too formal speaking to someone face to face. 

10. How to congratulate in German on special occasions

Many special occasions ask for congratulations and good wishes. Birth, birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, promotions and retirement, to name but a few. Luckily, you can use most of the expressions mentioned above to formulate a personalized congratulation by adding Ich wünsche Dir (I wish you) and/or zu (for). Don’t forget the adjective declension in phrases like Ich wünsche Dir einen schönen Geburtstag! (I wish you a nice birthday!). You can make it slightly easier with Ich wünsche Dir alles Gute zum Geburtstag! (I wish you all the best for your birthday!), or Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Deiner Verlobung! (Heartfelt congratulations on your engagement!). Unfortunately, not all occasions are happy ones. Sometimes we have to wish someone Gute Besserung! (Get well soon!) or even Mein tiefstes Beileid! (My deepest sympathy!)

11. Season greetings

What would life be without the special celebrations like Christmas that unite everyone in a festive spirit? They would be only half as festive without the special season greetings. In Germany, you can easily come up with a correct greeting by pairing Froh(e) with the name of the celebration: Frohe Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas!) Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter!) Frohen Muttertag! (Happy Mother’s Day!). 


Congrats in German

There are many different ways to congratulate someone in German. Congratulatory phrases can be short and sweet or detailed and personalized. There are congratulations for formal occasions and others that you would only use with close friends and family. At the end of the day, they all build on a few basic expressions such as Herzlichen Glückwunsch or Alles Gute. And now that you have learned so much about congratulations in German, we wish you viel Erfolg with your German studies.

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Sandra lives in Istanbul, together with her kids, cat and dog. As a historian she thrives exploring this ancient city with her two- and four-legged loved ones. Together, they also love to go on adventures through all of Turkey and its neighboring countries. The perfect opportunity to put all the language learning into practice. If she’s not on the road, Sandra is busy putting her experiences into writing as a freelance copywriter for the travel industry and everything related to language, culture and family. Her particular interest lies in providing information on animal welfare with her website contentrundumstier.de.

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