How to congratulate someone on their baby in German
This year I turned 30. Now you might think, “Big deal.” If you’re at this age or around it though you surely have noticed many of your friends are getting married or have already gotten married and are starting families. Families of course mean children. as one of Zurich’s most eligible bachelors I’m not in that category, but many of my friends, acquaintances and students are. This means that should be sending out far more cards than I am.
Now even though you can buy plenty of English cards to congratulate people at the office or friends and family on their new child in Zurich, a German card is often nicer for German speakers. Or maybe your in-laws are German speakers and you want to send them a card from wherever it is that you live in German or at least with a little German wish. So with that in mind, here are a few things you can say. I think you’ll find one of them very funny, if you were to translate it directly into English.
Just a quick grammatical note on wishes. The German verb “wünschen” is often called a dative verb. This means that you need an indirect object z.B. Ich wünsche Dir alles Gute zum Geburtstag (I wish you all the best on your birthday). Often the subject (nominative) is not stated. Let’s illustrate a typical examples of this:
Notice that in the first clause there is no verb and no subject. They are both implied. The “herzliche Glückwünsche” are that, which you are wishing the recipients. “Zur Geburt” is in the dative because of the preposition “zu” and “Geburt being “die”. “Eures Stammhalters” is in the genitive, literally meaning “of your son and heir”. The second sentence has the standard nominative (subject) in the first position followed by the verb (reflexive verb in this case). Then comes the da-compound and the accusative “ihn” (who you will meet) and then a zu + infinitive.
If we translate the above greeting we’ll literally get: “Congratulations on the birth of your son and heir. We’re looking forward to seeing him soon.”
Of course not everyone is having sons and you might feel odd using the term Stammhalter. So you might just want to say (also in the genitive):
- deines Sohn(e)s / eures Sohn(e)s (of your son)
- deiner Tochter / eurer Tochter (of your daughter)
- deines Kind(e)s / eures Kind(e)s (of your child)
- deiner Zwillinge / eurer Zwillinge (of your twins)
In this second example we see the dative case (the people you are gibing your congratulations to) circled in orange. The direct objects (accusative) is circled in blue. The underlined parts are in the dative and/or accusative because of the prepositions that start the phrase (für = accusative, zu = dative). If we translate the above we’ll literally get: “Congratulations to you and your wife on your twins. All the best for the future.”
As you can see there is a lot happening in what seems to be a very simple expression. From this example, you should see part of the value of learning some expressions as complete sentences and not trying to build them from scratch.
Let’s take a look at some other things you could write:
- Nach neun Monaten Wartezeit ist es nun soweit. Herzliche Glückwünsche! (After nine months of waiting, the wait is finally over. Congratulations!)
- Bisher wart’ Ihr glücklich und allein, jetzt zu Dritt wird das Glück noch größer sein. (Up till now you’ve been happy as a pair, now as a threesome your happiness will be even greater.)
One of the words you’ll find German speakers often use with Glückwunsch / Glückwünsche is herzlich z.B. herzlichen Glückwunsch / herzliche Glückwünsche
Remenber here that this is the wish (the direct object of the sentence) and must therefore be in the accusative. Glückwünsch is masculine and the plural is Glückwünsche so the adjective endings on herzlich needs to change. It is difficult to translate into English and is often left out and simply translated as congratulations, though something like “Heartfelt congratulations” would be a more literal translation.
On top of the above case Germans also the term Nachwuchs (offspring) when congratulating people on the birth of their child. In English this would be completely unheard of, but this is normal in German. Here are two examples:
- Es lächelt die Mutter, es strahl der Papa – endlich ist der Nachwuchs da. Herzliche Glückwünsche. (The mother smiles, the father beams — the offspring is finally here. Congratulations.)
- Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Nachwuchs. (Congratulations on your offspring.)