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"Congratulations for living one more year." Does this sound weird?

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    It does sound a bit odd -- either sarcastic or morbid. The sort of thing that Prince Charles might say to his mum. – Mick Dec 31 '16 at 21:14
  • I'm pretty sure I've used that exact sentence. But I'm also sure I'm weird! In general, for someone learning the language, I'd avoid this in favor of a "Happy Birthday!" or some other similar statement, which is inoffensive and appropriate for any situation (as long as it actually is their birthday). – PMV Jan 1 '17 at 2:56
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There are several nuances of expression one might infer from a statement like

Congratulations for living one more year

  1. Sincere congratulations of a trivial kind (from someone who has no great investment in the social graces)
  2. Sincere congratulations of a serious kind (to a person who has been gravely ill, from a person who is not skillful with words)
  3. Sarcasm (from someone who is being deliberately boorish, and wants to express that the target has achieved the bare minimum out of life)
  4. Good-natured humor (from someone who uses sarcasm in a friendly, joking way)
  5. Well-meaning language blunder (from a non-native speaker of English)

In short, this phrase sounds rather odd. You would do better to find a more adroit expression of congratulation, if in fact sincere congratulation is your goal.

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If you tell someone

Congratulations for living one more year.

the implication is that you may not have expected them to do so.
Under certain circumstances it may be appropriate e.g. if the person was very ill or had a major accident, but usually it's not said.

I did once say to a friend on their 21st birthday

Congratulations on surviving your parents for 21 years!

it was a good friend and said as a joke.

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Yes, it makes pretty sense. For example, one of my roommates wanted to abandon us last year, but my friends and I insisted on not letting him go. We would probably tell him, "Congratulations for living one more year with us". For this has to be said that it does depend on the cotext in which a speaker/writer is endeavoring to convey the intended meaning.

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