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I consider myself a near-fluent Spanish speaker, having learned it primarly in Mexico. I have never heard the term "Enhorabuena" used there; of course, I realize that this doesn't mean that it isn't used. Is it commonly used across the Spanish-speaking world, or is limited to certain countries? If I wanted to say "Congratulations on buying this thing!" or "Congratulations on achieveing your goal!" does it sound ok to use "enhorabuena" or is "felicidades" better, for a world-wide audience?

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I perfectly understand «enhorabuena» and I think it is more appropiate than «felicidades» in this context. However I would seldom use it and I'm not completely sure if everyone around me, particularly the younger generations, will understand it. –  Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Dec 4 '13 at 22:55
    
yo entiendo «enhorabuena» aunque la mayoria de las veces que la he escuchado a sido a personas mayores o en las novelas –  Emilio Gort Dec 5 '13 at 1:17
    
Thanks all for your answers and comments. It's hard to pick an "answer" because I guess my question was asking more for an opinion than a definitive answer. Nonetheless, I will pick one answer. Thanks for the responses! –  richardmtl Dec 13 '13 at 3:43
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4 Answers 4

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This is the first time I have ever heard of "Enhorabuena", but I did a little bit of research.

According to Spanish-Only.com

First all, there is a difference between the two. It’s a small difference, but there’s one. Second of all, you use felicidades when it’s someone’s birthday. Can you use enhorabuena as well? No! Don’t fall in the trap to use in this context. Also, when someone graduated or passed a test enhorabuena is used instead of felicidades. For the rest, you can use both words pretty much for the same things.

-Excerpt from Spanish-Only.com.

Some examples that Spanish-Only.com gave was:

  1. Tengo que darte la enhorabuena. (I must congratulate you.)
  2. ¡Enhorabuena!(Congratulations!)

Other sources:

Yahoo! Education (Define)

Congratulations: felicidades vs. felicitaciones from Spanish StackExchange. (Mentioned)

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'Enhorabuena' is standard language usage in Spain. It is used mainly for personal achievements, while 'Felicidades' is more for something that has happened to you. So we use 'Enhorabuena' for a promotion, a degree, a marriage or a baby, while Felicidades for birthday, Christmas or winning the lotto.

Despite this, 'Enhorabuena' is receding and 'Felicidades' is seeing its usage increase.

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Same here (Argentina) –  leonbloy Dec 7 '13 at 14:08
    
Thanks for this reply, it was really instructive. I picked the other reply as the "answer" because of the links and references, but yours was a close second. :) –  richardmtl Dec 13 '13 at 3:44
    
I'd add that enhorabuena is more formal and felicidades more informal. You can use enhorabuena to congratulate someone for a recent wedding, but you surely use felicidades if the person is close to you. Also you can use felicidades to congratulate someone for a new employ, but if it's not a close relative to you you surely will better use enhorabuena. –  Bardo Dec 17 '13 at 13:52
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At least in Mexico, we use "felicidades" to congratulate someone for something.

Despite almost anyone would understand if you say "enhorabuena", it just sounds weird.

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In response to a geographical distribution, here in Chile it is absolutely not used. I have never said it nor heard it. It is very common in Spain. But if you use it in Chile, I think a certain percent of the population will understand you.

Always remember that Spanish varies from country to country, dictionary and main directives are in RAE. Different meanings for different regions are indicated there.

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+1... why the downvote? I think it's good answer. –  c.p. Dec 17 '13 at 20:40
    
Because my English is not good enough i guess. Anyway this is a Spanish Language exchange knowledge site, I am sure i can help on it. –  Diego Andrés Díaz Espinoza Dec 18 '13 at 21:45
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