I feel the phrase 'good for you' shows a sense of detachment or lack of interest and sounds so rude while the phrase 'I feel happy for you' shows a sense of interest and friendship. I wonder why would anyone use 'good for you' versus other simple phrases unless they want to point out that they could be happy for us but they don't care much anyways. Do you use the phrase even when you genuinely care about the person you are saying it to ?

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    "1. used as an exclamation of approval toward a person, especially for something that they have achieved." (Google) Used as an exclamation of praise or approval: "‘I’m having driving lessons and taking my test next month.’ ‘Good for you!’" (ODO oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/good) See also: "thefreedictionary.com/good+for+you" – Kris Feb 20 '15 at 6:52
  • By the way, where are you from? – Kris Feb 20 '15 at 6:52
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    I know one or two people from whom it would sound genuine. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 20 '15 at 7:07
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    I think it will always depend on your tone . I don't think it is taken in a bad tone. 'I feel happy for you' definitely gives a personal happy touch to your ongoing conversation but 'good for you' isn't that bad :) they are also different in the sense that when you say the latter sentence , you tell the other person that the thing he is doing is good for him and it shouldn't much affect the way how you feel about it. – Veronica Diamond Feb 20 '15 at 7:10
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    These sorts of things depend greatly on who is speaking to whom, in what circumstances, the reason for the congratulation etc etc. One needs to know the characters and what it is all about. As we see from this site one cannot even prescribe 'correct' grammatical forms; prescribing what it is appropriate to say socially is quite impossible. – WS2 Feb 20 '15 at 7:58

I think this is one of those expressions that is in the midst of a transition in usage, from having an earnest meaning to being used primarily with sarcasm. If said to a child, it is still earnest, but not so much if said to an adult.

  • You have enough reputation, please use "comments" for posting opinions. :) – Kris Feb 20 '15 at 14:11

"Good for you" does not contain "I" or "me", while "I feel happy for you" does.

That's a simple reason why the latter implies participation, while the former may easily sound like "That's good for you; for me, I don't care".

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