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Expressing Thanks and Appreciation

Expressing Thanks and Appreciation
Expressing Thanks and Appreciation
Expressing Thanks and Appreciation
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Today on Everyday Grammar, we take a closer look at several ways we can express our thanks and appreciation. We will use the well-known 1984 film, The Karate Kid, as an example of how we can show our gratitude.


Firstly, we will look at appreciation. When we appreciate someone, we are grateful for what they have done for us.

Let's look at this scene from The Karate Kid.

After Daniel is pushed down a hill on his bike, Mr. Miyagi fixes Daniel’s bike. Pay careful attention to how Daniel uses the verb “appreciate” and the adverb “really.”

Daniel: “Hey, did you fix my bike?”

Mr. Miyagi: “Ai”

Daniel: “Thank you.”

Mr. Miyagi: “Welcome.”

Daniel: “I really appreciate that.”

In the example, the word “that” refers to the act of fixing the bike.

Daniel could have said, “I appreciate that.” But adding the adverb “really” makes his statement even stronger - “I really appreciate that.”

English speakers often use the verb “appreciate” with a direct object. In other words, they often use “appreciate” as a transitive verb.

A common structure is: subject + appreciate + object

For example, a person might say “I appreciate your help” or “He appreciates your kindness.”

To express extremely strong feelings, you could use the adverb “really,” as in “I really appreciate your help” or “He really appreciates your kindness.”


Along with the verb appreciate, English speakers also use the verb “thank.”

This verb appears without a subject in the phrase “Thank you.”

English speakers sometimes shorten “Thank you” even further. They sometimes just say “Thanks.”

The difference is one of formality.

In the previous example from The Karate Kid, Daniel said “Thank you.” This was one of the first encounters between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, so it is more formal.

But note how Daniel uses “thanks” once he knows Mr. Miyagi better.

“Thanks for helping me out with my…friends”

The general structure of the sentence is:

Thanks for + gerund – ing (informal)

You can make any number of statements with this basic structure. For example, you could say, “Thanks for calling” or “Thanks for being a good friend.”

Expressing gratitude in other ways

There are other ways of expressing our gratitude that do not always use the verbs “appreciate” or “thank you.”

If we are in unexpected or surprising situations, like a birthday party, we can express appreciation by using the modal “should.” It is often used in a negative sense, as in:

You shouldn’t have gotten me such a nice gift!

The general structure for such a statement is this:

“You shouldn’t have” + verb with past participle

In our final example from The Karate Kid, Daniel used a similar negative modal phrase with “can’t” to express his surprise and thankfulness for Mr. Miyagi’s birthday present -- a car.

Daniel: I can't believe it. Oh, wow. What a gift! You're the best friend I've ever had.

Daniel tried to refuse the gift by saying, “I can’t believe it.”

“It” refers to the car that Mr. Miyagi gave to Daniel.

The structure for this phrase is:

“I can’t believe + noun"

Daniel also used other phrases to express his thankfulness like:

“What a gift!”

“You’re the best friend I’ve ever had”

Closing thoughts

Today, we looked at how we can express our appreciation and thankfulness to others. We can use the verbs “appreciate” and “thank.” We can use adverbs like “really” to make our expressions of thanks stronger. And we can use other expressions like “You shouldn’t have…” and “I can’t believe it!”

Let’s end this report with a homework assignment. Think about ways that you express thanks in your native language. Translate those terms or expressions into English and write them to us in the comments section of our website.

I’m Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

gratitude n. an expression of deep thankfulness

encountersn. unplanned meetings