When we were younger, we learned words were just words, but that’s not true. Words, good or bad, hold a lot of power. Hearing a kind word when you are feeling low can change everything and make you feel.
It is correct to say “well wishes as a generic communication of goodwill.” “Well wishes” are more about describing intent than saying the actual words. If you wanted to be more specific you would say, “Congratulations” or “Hope you feel better soon” to give “well wishes.” You may use the phrase itself in thanking someone for their words.
This article will show you when and how to use “well wishes” correctly. We will also explore words you can use when you want to express “well wishes” along with other polite expressions.
What Does “Well Wishes” Mean?
As a whole, “well wishes” means a good or kindly wish (source). “Well wishes” consist of two parts: the adverb “well” and the noun “wishes.”
As an adverb, “well” means in a kindly or friendly manner (source). As a noun, “wishes” speaks to a need or desire. Like wishing you could go on a vacation. The context of the phrase “well wishes” means the desire for someone to do or be well.
The phrase has a positive and polite meaning, so you wish good things for that person when you use it.
How Do You Use “Well Wishes”?
If someone has expressed “well wishes,” you can say, “Thank you for the well wishes.” On the other hand, if you desire to give “well wishes,” there are some minor sentences you can use like “Wishing you well” and “Here’s to you.”
You can use “well wishes” in two scenarios: thanking and giving. Thanking someone for their “well wishes” is more common. For example, you would do this when someone sends you a card expressing congratulations or how they hope you feel better.
In the following sentence, “well wishes” is a noun phrase acting as the direct object of the sentence, and the preposition “for”:
- Hannah, thank you for your well wishes.
That said, saying “well wishes” is more about intent. It’s what you say to someone when you want to congratulate them or make them feel better.
In the following example, “wish” is a verb, and “well” is still an adverb:
- I am sad I didn’t get to wish them well before they left.
When Can You Use “Well Wishes”?
You can use “well wishes” when someone has expressed their desire for good things to happen to you and you want to thank them. If you’re going to say kind words to someone, you can give “well wishes,” but you wouldn’t use the actual phrase.
Again, you primarily use “well wishes” in two scenarios: thanking someone for their “well wishes” or intent. When you want to thank someone for their “well wishes,” you do so after they have said kind words to you.
There are a plethora of reasons somebody would want to wish you well, whether after a promotion, the birth of a baby, or when you are sick or have experienced a loss. Whenever something amazing or awful happens, people often want to wish you well and let you know they are thinking about you.
- Polite Person: Congratulations on your new job. Wishing you all the success.
- You: Thank you for your well wishes.
- Polite Person: Wishing you a speedy recovery.
- You: Thank you for your well wishes. I am feeling a little better.
- Polite Person: Praying for your family during this difficult time.
- You: Thank you for your kind words and prayers.
If you want to tell someone a kind word, don’t say “sending you well wishes.” Most people would understand what you meant if you did, but it sounds awkward.
Appropriately expressing “well wishes” comes down to your intent. Whether you wish someone well after tragedy or congratulate someone after success, use the most acceptable statement instead of “well wishes.”
Examples of giving “well wishes” in specific contexts:
- Wishing you a speedy recovery.
- So sorry for your loss. I am praying for your family.
- Congratulations on the new baby!
- Wishing you all joy and happiness on your special day.
- Congrats on the new job! You are going to do amazing things!
- Hope you feel better soon!
- Get well soon!
As you can see above, you can use “well wishes” to express congratulations or empathy. But, in truth, you use “well wishes” whenever you think someone needs a kind word in times of happiness, sickness, or sadness.
However, you will likely only use the term “well wishes” when thanking someone for expressing one of the above.
- Thank you for the well wishes. You are so thoughtful!
In What Context Can You Use “Well Wishes”
You can use “well wishes” in two different scenarios. First, you can use the actual term when you want to thank someone for their “well wishes” or kind words. Or you can use “well wishes” as intent rather than the actual term.
When you want to thank someone for their “well wishes,” sending a thank-you card is the preferred method. Despite this, thank-you cards or letters have become less prevalent since social media and email have come into play. Now you can simply text someone a thank you.
But we still consider it more polite to send someone a thank-you card, especially a greeting card expressing their “well wishes.” While less common people still love getting cards in the mail.
When using “well wishes” as intended, use the right words for the situation. For example, you couldn’t send someone a card saying “Congratulations” if they are mourning a loss.
Likewise, you wouldn’t say “Get well soon” to someone who isn’t sick. You have to understand the situation and find the right words.
Suppose a coworker’s mother recently died. Which of the following responses would be more appropriate?
- Response 1: Sending my congratulations to you and your family.
- Response 2: Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
Response 1 doesn’t fit the situation. If someone is mourning the loss of their mother – or any loved one – you wouldn’t tell them congratulations.
Response 2 does fit the situation. Your coworker needs empathy, love, and kind words during a time of grieving – not a celebration.
When Not to Use “Well Wishes”
The term “well wishes” is mainly reserved for social media posts and cards. It’s not something you say out loud to someone. You also wouldn’t want to express or thank someone for their “well wishes” if you don’t mean it or if they say something mean to you.
Sometimes people are rude and don’t mean what they say in their frustration. You shouldn’t say things you don’t mean – especially when giving well wishes. If you are not happy for someone, then you shouldn’t wish them well because people know when you are not being genuine in your response.
For example, if someone at work gets the promotion over you and you are upset about it, do not wish them well in the moment because your frustration would show. Instead, you should say nothing until you calm down or just say a casual “congrats.”
Also, you shouldn’t thank people when they say mean things to you. If you can tell someone’s remarks or “well wishes” are not sincere, you shouldn’t thank them.
What Can You Use Instead of “Well Wishes”?
The term “well wishes” is not usually said out loud unless you thank someone for their kind words. However, when you want to express “well wishes,” there are several minor sentences you can use, like “Congratulations,” “Hope you are feeling better,” or “Wishing you a speedy recovery.”
When someone has expressed their “well wishes,” and you want to thank them, there are other sentences you can use other than “Thank you for your well wishes.”
- Thank you for your encouraging words.
- I appreciate your sympathy and kind words.
- Thank you for thinking of me.
- I appreciate your support.
- Your kind words have been constructive.
- Thanks for cheering me on.
- I am so thankful for your kindness and support during this difficult time.
In the above examples, you express gratitude for someone’s kind words.
There are many ways you can express “well wishes” or say kind words to someone. It all depends on the situation and who you are talking to.
- Wishing you all the joy and happiness during this beautiful time in your life.
- Congrats on the promotion. I always believed in you!
- Congrats on the new baby. Can’t wait to meet him/her!
- Sending so much love and joy on your special day.
- Congratulations on getting the job!
Expressing concern about health:
- Wishing you a speedy recovery.
- Get well soon!
- Hope you feel better soon.
- We miss you around the office. Hope you feel better soon.
- The office isn’t the same without you; get well soon.
- Hope you are feeling better. If you need anything, let me know.
- I am so sorry for your loss.
- You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
- My condolences.
- Sending so much love to you and your family during this difficult time.
If you are happy for someone, you won’t send your condolences or sympathy. Likewise, if someone is going through a difficult time, you wouldn’t send them a congratulatory card.
You need to find the right words for the situation. If this is difficult, you can look up the definitions of the words you want to use. Knowing what a word means and how it fits into a sentence can help you decide whether it suits what you are trying to say.
Using “Well Wishes” in a Full Sentence
The term “well wishes” doesn’t work alone because it is a noun phrase. “Well wishes” is a direct object phrase that needs a subject or a verb.
The phrase “well wishes” consists of an adverb and a noun, which is strange. Usually, a noun is modified by an adjective, but not in this case. The adjective form of “well” means “in good health.”
When expressing our “well wishes” for someone, it could be health-related but not always. Most of the time, direct objects answer “what?” or “whom?” (source).
- Thank you for the well wishes. (What are you thanking the person for?)
- Sheila expressed her well wishes over the phone. (Who expressed their well wishes?)
In the sentences above, “well wishes” acts as a direct object noun phrase and answers the questions “for what?” or “to whom?”
When you want to say a kind word or express your “well wishes,” you don’t always have to use a complete sentence. Sometimes a minor sentence works best. A minor sentence is a word or phrase that is not grammatically complete but still acts as a complete sentence.
- Get well soon!
- Feel better!
- My condolences.
- My sincerest sympathies.
- Sorry for your loss.
The above examples are minor sentences because, while not grammatically correct, the sentences still convey the intended message. If you are still curious about minor sentences, read Is It Correct to Say “Hope You Arrived Safely”?
Polite Expressions as Minor Sentences
Many polite expressions act as minor sentences. A minor sentence is a word or phrase that is not grammatically correct as a full sentence but acts as a complete sentence because listeners derive the whole meaning from the context.
A minor sentence doesn’t have the traditional subject + verb + object sentence form required by traditional grammar. However, a speaker may drop one, two, or all of these to answer a question or make a self-explanatory statement in context.
As long as those conversing understand the context of the conversation, they will understand the meaning. So, many polite expressions act as minor sentences.
- Get well soon.
- Feel better.
Even without a subject, you still understand the meaning of the minor sentences. For example, someone is sick, and we want them to feel better. Or someone did something unique, and we want to congratulate them.
Yet another example of a tiny minor sentence is “Apologies.” You can read more about that in our article Is It Correct to Say “Apologies”?
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Being polite is about being kind and saying kind words to someone. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence as long as you understand the meaning in context.
Polite expressions are the kind words that we say to one another. Some can act as minor sentences (fragmented sentences that convey a message). These sentences work as long as the speaker and listener understand the context.
Some “well wishes” like “congratulations” and “get well soon” act as minor sentences.“Well wishes” are more about intent than saying the actual phrase.