Wow, you cut your hair! You...

Wow, you cut your hair! You're... good!

Well, yes, it makes logical sense...but it sounds quite funny in English. Today I'm going to give you some tips on how to pay someone a compliment, as well as how to congratulate someone. These little phrases are so commonly used, but unfortunately they don't translate very well from one language to another, so take notes so you can make a good impression with your colleagues, acquaintances and friends!

 

Congratulations!


It's your birthday...congratulations?! Not quite. There are many different occasions where you might want to congratulate someone, and unfortunately the universal word, "congratulations", doesn't really make sense in all of them. So here's a short guide to help you out!


For birthdays, most holidays and days dedicated to people (women's day, mother's day etc.), we simply say, "Happy ____________!" Happy Birthday, Happy Women's day, Happy Easter, Happy Father's day and so on and so forth. Easy-peasy right?


For situations where someone has achieved something, like a job promotion or passing a difficult exam, you can say "Congratulations!" without sounding silly. You might then add a follow-up phrase like, "I knew you could do it!", or, "good for you, you deserve it!".

 

Paying a compliment


Returning to the quote at the beginning of this post...In Spanish and Italian, it's perfectly fine to tell the person who's gotten a hair cut that "they're good". But as I said, in English it sounds funny, so here's how to do it right.


For any situation where a person has undergone a physical change, you would say:

You look good/great/beautiful/handsome etc.


When someone gets a haircut, you can use the above construction, but you can also tell them, "It [your hair] looks great!"


If you want to compliment someone's clothes, use this construction:

"That _________ [item of clothing] looks great on you!", or, "That ________ [color] or _________ [item of clothing] really suits you!".


When you aren't sure if someone has changed their appearance but you want to make a good impression, you can use this sneaky little expression,

"You look great today, did you get a haircut - or - did you do something differently?"

 

So I hope that yesterday you told all of your women friends and colleagues, "Happy Women's Day", and if not, now you know for next time not to say, "Congratulations". Lucky for you there are plenty of special days coming up as Spring seems to be filled with them!

 

Glossary

  • pay someone a compliment: to say something nice about someone

  • acquaintances: people that you know but not very well

  • undergone: to experience a change


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