I would like to thank you userr2684291 and FumbleFingers for their help on my previous post (I have deleted it because I don't want them to get into any trouble).

(I was doing some English learning test at home.) The previous question is this:

Speaker: My birthday's yesterday. (She meant her birthday was yesterday)
(thank you FumbleFingers for pointing out the mistake)

(Choose your response to the speaker)

A: I was at home yesterday.

B: Oh, how old will you be?

C: Oh, congratulations!

Because B is wrong (answered by userr2684291), and A is not correct, C is the only best choice out of the three.

My question is, isn't it weird to say this to someone's previous or upcoming birthday?

Oh, congratulations!

The one I heard most is this

Happy birthday to you!

But I am not very sure if Oh, congratulations! and Happy birthday to you! can be used to respond to someone whose birthday was yesterday.

What are some appropriate responses to the speaker in this situation?

  • 2
    You can choose to omit "to you".
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:19
  • 2
    Or you can just frown and say, "Oh. I didn't get you anything."
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:34
  • 2
    Congratulations is a little bit weird, except for perhaps a milestone birthday.
    – gattsbr
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


Usually you'd either apologize for forgetting it or express surprise because you didn't know. Then you could say:

Belated Happy Birthday!

People also say:

Happy belated birthday!

  • 1
    I am wondering is it OK to say: my "long overdue" happy birthday!
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:57
  • 1
    @Cardinal Yes, you could say that, but it's rather unextraordinary. The shorter the better, the more effective.
    – user3395
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 18:43
  • I see, but what does "unextraordinary" mean?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 19:47

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