Express thanks and appreciation

Today in Everyday Grammar, we take a closer look at several ways to express our thanks and appreciation. We will use the well-known 1984 movie, The Karate Kidas an example of how we can show our Recognition.


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

Let’s watch this scene from The Karate Kid.

After Daniel is pushed down a hill on his bike, Mr. Miyagi fixes Daniel’s bike. Pay particular 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 “it” refers to the act of fixing the bike.

Daniel could have said, “I appreciate that. But the addition of 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 can use the adverb “really,” as in “I really appreciate your help” or “He really appreciates your kindness.”

Thank you

In addition to the verb to appreciate, English speakers also use the verb “to thank”.

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

English speakers sometimes shorten “Thank you” even more. Sometimes they just say “Thank you”.

The difference is one of formality.

In the previous example of The Karate Kid, Daniel said “Thank you.” It was one of the first met between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, so it’s more formal.

But notice how Daniel uses “thank you” once he gets to know Mr. Miyagi better.

“Thank you for helping me with my…friends”

The general structure of the sentence is as follows:

Thanks for +gerund –ing (informal)

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

Express gratitude differently

There are other ways to express gratitude that don’t always use the verbs “appreciate” or “thank you.”

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

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

The general structure of such a declaration is as follows:

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

In our last example of The Karate KidDaniel used a similar negative modal expression with “can’t” to express his surprise and gratitude for Mr. Miyagi’s birthday present – a car.

Daniel: I can’t believe it. Oh wow. Which gift ! You are the best friend I have ever had.

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

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

The structure of this sentence is:

“I can’t believe + name”

Daniel also used other phrases to express his gratitude like:

“Which gift !”

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

Final Thoughts

Today we looked at how we can express our appreciation and gratitude to others. We can use the verbs “appreciate” and “thank”. We can use adverbs like “really” to reinforce our expressions of thanks. 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 the ways you express your thanks in your native language. Translate these terms or phrases into English and write to us in the comments section of our website.

I am Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


words in this story

Recognition nm an expression of deep gratitude

metnm unplanned meetings

Previous HKU biologists discover new protective factor against excessive lipid accumulation
Next Booker T. Washington Community Center Celebrates One Year