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English

I have heard both ¡Felicidades! and ¡Felicitaciones! as translations of the interjection, "Congratulations!"

What is the difference between the two, and when is each used?


Español

He escuchado ¡Felicidades! y ¡Felicitaciones! ambas como traducciones de la interjección, "Congratulations!".

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre las dos y cuándo se usa cada una?

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2  
And where does enhorabuena fit in? –  Garrigus Carraig Feb 4 '12 at 6:49
    
we don't use very often "en hora buena" in my country..but is an expression of happiness, it is a way to say congratulations..but like remarking that something good finally happen. –  cayerdis Oct 29 '12 at 5:38
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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Felicidades and felicitaciones are practically always interchangeable. A native Spanish friend of mine couldn't really tell me the difference

If I had to translate them to show the difference I would use:

¡Felicitaciones! - Congratulations!

¡Felicidades! - I wish you happiness!

I found a good example from another site that says:

"Por ejemplo si vos querés felicitar a alguien que tuvo un bebé le decís Felicitaciones y si le decís Felicidades le estás, además de felicitándolo, augurando felicidad."

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They are different statements. The difference is very subtle but they are not the same. However, people will use them today interchangeably. Felicidades is more general, familiar and is use for occasions like during a celebration, birthday, new year's eve. Felicitaciones is more commonly use when someone gives you good news. For example: I got a new job, I will get married. It is more formal.

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Thanks, and welcome to the site! –  jrdioko Oct 29 '12 at 19:12
1  
+1 for "felicitaciones" related to good news. –  Nicolás May 16 '13 at 15:15
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I'm my experience (Argentina), there is a correlation with both (related) meanings of congratulate:

  1. Give (someone) one's good wishes when something special or pleasant has happened to them. => "Desear felicidades" (also "Felicitar")
  2. Praise (someone) for a particular achievement. => "Felicitar"

As exclamation, "¡Felicidades!" is more used for the first aception (= "Te deseo felicidades"), while "¡Felicitaciones!" is more used for the second (="Te felicito")

Their use overlap, though, and varies with regions and ages.

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In Spain we always use 'felicidades'. 'Felicitaciones' is very uncommon and lot of people will say that word doesn't even exists in that context.

However, 'felicitación' (singular form) is used. From the RAE:

felicitación.

  1. f. Acción y efecto de felicitar.

  2. f. Tarjeta postal, telegrama, etc., con que se felicita.

Example:

Le envié una felicitación navideña (I sent him/her a Christmas card)

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What about enhorabuena? –  jrdioko Feb 6 '12 at 21:57
2  
Probably it deserves its own question. But short response is that is very much like 'felicidades', but more formal. –  Sergio Cinos Feb 7 '12 at 19:25
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