Congratulation or congratulating

JuliaAlexandra

Senior Member
Russian
Dear forum, I need your help again.

Is there any difference between the ing-form and a noun in the following phrase? Are both words possible? Or only one of them?

'In many cultures congratulating/ contratulation on a birthday in advance is considered to bring misfortune.'

To my ear, congratulating sounds better. It looks like it is a better match for the adverb 'in advance' here. Am I right?

Thank you!
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Either is possible, but the noun has to be in the plural (congratulations) and the gerund needs an object:
    In many cultures, congratulations on a birthday in advance is considered to bring misfortune.
    In many cultures, congratulating someone on their birthday in advance is considered to bring misfortune.​

    The first is a little awkward as "congratulations on a birthday in advance" is rather an unwieldy subject, so it might better be written:
    In many cultures, birthday congratulations in advance are considered to bring misfortune.​
     

    JuliaAlexandra

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you for your quick response, Uncle Jack!
    Can I use the word 'greetings' instead of congatulations? 'Birthday greetings in advance...'.

    Dictionaries say 'Christmas/ birthday/ etc greetings' is a message saying that you hope someone will be happy and healthy. What's the difference? Are congratulations just words we say while greetings is something written on a card?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Birthday greetings in advance..." is fine. Remember it is plural when deciding on the verb form.

    You greet someone when you meet them, and you can say "greetings". If it is the person's birthday, you can say "birthday greetings". You can also "greet" someone by letter or card, which is why birthday and Christmas cards often have "Birthday/Christmas Greetings" written on them.

    "Congratulations" means "well done" and is rather more positive/enthusiastic than "greetings". There needs to be something to justify congratulating someone, but a birthday is usually considered sufficient (the person has got a year older) whereas Christmas is not. "Congratulations" is often written on birthday cards, as well as being spoken.
     
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