Good morning! Wishing someone on a happy occasion requires more than just apt (suitable, fitting) use of words. A sullen (gloomy, angry) look and congratulations don’t go hand-in-hand; it is only when words are accompanied by a warm and genuine smile that they become meaningful. Today, I shall discuss with you words that express happiness for others.

‘Congratulations’ is always the most fitting of all the congratulatory phrases, it can be used for any occasion— be it a wedding anniversary or an awards ceremony or for that matter celebration of success, this word will never go out of fashion.

‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘many happy returns of the day’ are appropriate for birthdays; ‘congratulations’ on birthdays would sound a bit out of place. And, of course, this is the third time I am telling you that ‘many happy returns of the day’ is solely meant for birthdays and should never ever be used for any other event.

Some other phrases that can be used on various joyous occasions are— ‘heartfelt best wishes’, ‘sincere felicitations’, ‘felicitations’, ‘heartiest congratulations’ and ‘congratulations… way to go’ (this is to be used on someone’s stupendous [fantastic] performance). Like I said before, words do matter, but blend (combine) them with a happy expression and a cheerful tone, or else, the words will not convey your message. You do know that your body and expressions have their own language.

Well, today everyone has woken up to the importance of ‘Kinesics’ as a means of communication. ‘Kinesics’ is the study of communication through body movements.

Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell was the first to use the term; he believed that human communication was 93 per cent body language. If this is true then all of us need to work upon our body language, after all, our success largely depends on our ability to communicate.

So, when you wish your senior on his promotion, your words, “Congratulations, Mr Lamba!” must be spoken with a courteous gesture and a warm smile. A mere honorific, ‘Mr’ will not be enough…

An honorific is a word or an expression that is used to convey respect or courtesy when addressing a person—either a senior or a stranger or someone who is held in high esteem. Some commonly used English honorifics are—‘Mr’, ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’ and ‘Ms’. ‘Mr’, ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’. ‘Ms’ is a comparatively new honorific. It is to be used before the name of a woman irrespective of her marital status, just like ‘Mr’ is to be used before the name of a man—whether married or bachelor, whether divorcee or widower.

Thus, in topical setting, when the usual accessories associated with marriage are not very often used and therefore one is never too sure whether a woman is married or is a spinster, it is safest to use the honorific ‘Ms’. ‘Master’ is used as an honorific for boys under the age of 13;  however, in some countries like Scotland ‘Master’ is used for boys under the age of 16.

Other ‘honorifics’ are based on a person’s occupation—Doctor, Professor, Officer, Reverend… ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ (Ma’am in informal) are also honorifics. Always remember to use honorifics, Sir or Madam, after the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’; or when wishing ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’, especially when talking to seniors.


– Yes, Sir

– No, Ma’am

– Good morning, Sir!

– Good afternoon, Ma’am!

With this I call it a day. Keep smiling…

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