I will congratulate him on New Year.


I will congratulate him on the New Year!


I will congratulate him on X-mas!


I will congratulate him on the X-mas!


  • Neither of your sentences is truly idiomatic with congratulate. Native speakers say Happy New Year! to each other. We reserve congratulations for auspicious family events or personal and business successes. Congratulations on the new baby! Congratulations on your new job! Congratulations on the merger with Acme Widgets! – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 21 '18 at 14:02
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo - What about the third-pronoun cases? (please, see my edited question) – brilliant Jan 21 '18 at 18:54
  • That does not change anything in terms of using congratulate with New Years or another holiday like Christmas. Contemporary speakers of AmE and BrE tend to wish each other Happy New Year and Merry|Happy Christmas. These holidays are cause for festivity, not congratulations. A CEO might, on New Years eve, congratulate the company for a good year. Congratulations, Acme Widgets, on a year of record growth!. But that is something different than the holiday itself. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 21 '18 at 19:52
  • You keep talking about the second grammatical person (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_person), that is about a dialogue - when people talk to each other, but I am asking about the third grammatical person - that is, when people talk to each other about someone else. For example, "Look! Here he is! Go ahead and congratulate him on (the) New Year". The word "congratulations" doesn't seem to be of any use here, while the verb "congratulate" seems to be in the right place. Not? – brilliant Jan 21 '18 at 20:30
  • Look! There he is. Go ahead and wish him a happy new year. While congratulate is perfectly grammatical, it is not idiomatic in this instance. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 22 '18 at 1:22

Instead of congratulating Uncle Joe on the New Year, native speakers would wish him a happy new year, or wish him 'Happy New Year' .

We might also take the occasion to wish him good health and prosperity in the upcoming year.

We wish you health and prosperity in the new year.

But "the new year" there is not referring to the day of celebration but to the upcoming year itself.

The indefinite article is optional. When used, it refers to the upcoming year:

Did you remember to wish your uncle a happy new year?

When the article is not used, the words 'Happy New Year' refer to the seasonal greeting:

Did you remember to wish your uncle 'Happy New Year'?

To paraphrase: did you say the words 'Happy New Year' (or words to that effect) to your uncle? Did you give him a new year's greeting?

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  • Thank you. Just a small additional question. Could the mother from my example (that we discussed earlier today in comments) also answer to her daughter like "He is giving a X-mas greeting to your uncle" (or, perhaps, plural form: "He is giving X-mas greetings to your uncle")? – brilliant Jan 22 '18 at 12:41
  • a Christmas greeting is not likely to be used in the domestic scenario you've sketched out, where mother and daughter are speaking face-to-face. Rather a Christmas greeting would refer to a planned event or even one that is staged: The CEO will deliver a Christmas greeting to subsidiaries around the world via closed-circuit TV. And Christmas greetings is likely to refer to greetings over the phone or in writing rather than face-to-face. When face-to-face, the greetings are rather less formal than either "a Christmas greeting" or "Christmas greetings" would imply. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 22 '18 at 14:13
  • But one could say, Let's stop in at Uncle Joe's to give him our Christmas greetings. or I'm sending Uncle Joe our Christmas greetings. I think he will like the picture of the snowed-in cabin on this greeting card. It looks like the one in which he grew up as a boy. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 22 '18 at 14:15

We use "congratulations" to acknowledge an accomplishment. So, you could say, "Congratulations for having survived Christmas." In that case, it needs no article. "Congratulations on Christmas" would be correct, with no article, but what would you mean by it? It would imply that the person to whom you're speaking had a hand in the creation or success of Christmas. I can imagine a rare context for this, but I have a feeling you're looking for a phrase more like "Merry Christmas," which is a holiday greeting or blessing.

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  • I am a little bit puzzled by your answer. It looks to be ruling out the usage of the verb "to congratulate". In what cases do native speakers use that verb then? (Also, please, check my edited question) – brilliant Jan 21 '18 at 18:57
  • You could certainly use it in a verb form: I wish to congratulate you on your recent promotion. Still, "congratulations" is always an acknowledgement of an achievement (becoming a father, for instance). Or it might be used in conjunction with something special that happens to someone (winning the lottery, for instance) or a small group of people (winning a football game, for instance). It's never used in the "new year" or "Christmas" context that you're describing, and my feeling is that this is because no one "achieves" these things, and they happen to either billions of people or everyone. – Jeff the Chf Dec 30 '19 at 21:05
  • I see. Thank you. – brilliant Dec 30 '19 at 22:32

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