Congradulations or Congratulations?

Does it bug you when you see congradulations? Grammar Girl tackles this play on the word graduate.

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read


A couple of weeks ago on the Grammar Girl Facebook group, people were talking about the difference between “graduated college” and “graduated from college” and a reader named Loriano commented that it bugs him when people write congradulations with a D on graduation cards instead of congratulations (spelled properly with a T).

Obviously, it’s a play on the word graduate which has a D, but it made me wonder about the roots of the two words.

Congratulations, comes from Latin. The gratulations part comes from gratulari, which means “to give thanks or express joy,” and when you add the con part you get the full Latin meaning: “to wish joy.”

Gratulari comes from the Latin word gratus, which also gives us the words grace and gratitude. So those three words—congratulations, grace, and gratitude—are all related.

Graduate, on the other hand, comes from a different Latin word: graduatus, which means “to take a degree.” Through Latin, the word graduate is related the word grade.

It’s just a coincidence that graduate and congratulate sound the same in the middle.

Spotlight effect gold scene background image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.