Many people simply say felicidades when they congratulate someone. Although it’s possible to use it in all kind of situations, it can soon become boring to say felicidades all the time. That’s why you should use the word enhorabuena from time to time as well.
But what’s the difference between felicidades and enhorabuena? Is there even one? And when do you use which one? 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 (if there aren’t other exceptions I’m not aware of. Natives who can tell something about this?).
In English, you can translate enhorabuena to ‘congratulations’ or ‘to congratulate somebody’ (although the word itself isn’t a verb).
Tengo que darte la enhorabuena.
I must congratulate you.
Le dieron la enhorabuena por su aprobado.
They congratulated him because of his pass.
*Sentences taken from “EsPasa diccionario de la lengua española” and “Pocket Oxford Spanish Dictionary”.
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