Beyond Thank You: How to Show Appreciation and Express Gratitude in English

Take a moment and think about how many times you’ve said “thank you” today.

If you’re living in the United States or another English speaking country, you’ve probably said it more times than you can count.

“Thank you” has become such a common response that we often don’t notice when we’ve said it.

As a non-native speaker, you may be surprised by how much Americans say “thank you” for doing something that’s common courtesy, or expected because of your personal or professional relationship.

Here it’s polite to say “thanks” when someone does a small favor for you, shows you kindness, or helps you out, even if it’s expected.

Although thanking someone may seem simple, you want to make sure your sincere feelings are clear.

In this video, you’ll learn how to go beyond thank you and find out more ways to show appreciation and express gratitude in American English.

You’ll practice useful English expressions that will help you be more specific about what you’re thankful for.

You’ll also find out how to show sincere gratitude through your intonation.

And remember, it’s not just about the words!

Being grateful can actually improve your mood, your attitude, and even your life.

Let’s get started!


Difference Between Thanks, Appreciation, and Gratitude

First things first, let’s go over the language we use in order to talk about giving thanks.

Saying thank you describes the simple, clear act of using a phrase like “thanks,” “thank you,” “thanks so much,” or the other common expressions we’ll talk about in this video.

When we appreciate someone or something, we perform an action.

We recognize the value of something we received, the time someone spent with us, or their contribution to our lives.

Appreciation goes beyond words: it’s a deeper feeling that we experience.

When we show appreciation, we demonstrate these feelings through words or actions or both.

This usually involves saying a genuine thank you, either publicly or privately, and being clear and specific about what we appreciate.

Gratitude can be considered an attitude or an approach to living a good life.

The word “gratitude” describes the state of being grateful or thankful due to a consistent awareness of the positive aspects of your life.

For many people, gratitude is actually a practice, something you may choose to do on a daily basis.

In short, thanks are simply words, appreciation is an action, and gratitude is a practice. You can be thankful, appreciative, and grateful all at the same time!

Why Saying Thank You is Important

As I mentioned a moment ago, saying thank you more often and giving thanks as part of a daily gratitude practice can have an important impact on your personal well-being. (Check out this Psychology Today article for more information.)

For non-native English speakers, regularly saying thank you can also have a major impact on how people view you, and how they interpret your meaning and your message.

First of all, saying thank you shows good manners.

It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to ensure that someone sees you as polite.

(For more tips about politeness, you can read these articles!)

Admit it – we’re more likely to remember when someone doesn’t say thank you after we’ve invested time and energy into helping them.

(You can probably think of a few examples right now!)

Besides sounding more polite, saying thank you indicates that you understand and respect that the other person offered you their time, energy, knowledge, or assistance.

Showing appreciation has an additional benefit: it enables us to connect with others.

When we sincerely appreciate how other people contribute to our lives, this creates a deeper shared bond between us.

In turn, this often leads to a stronger friendship, or a more supportive work relationship with more opportunities to work together and collaborate in the future.

Remember, the key word here is sincere.

When you’re being sincere, you truly mean what you say, your feelings are authentic, and your attitude is genuine, not fake.

We definitely know when people truly appreciate us!

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of saying “thank you,” let’s talk about how to genuinely show appreciation through both your words and your intonation.


Guidelines to Saying Thank You

When expressing gratitude in American English, there are four guidelines that you can follow in order to show sincere appreciation:

  1. Choose an appropriate expression to say thank you.
  2. Show appreciation through your intonation.
  3. Be specific about what you’re thanking the person for.
  4. Follow up with another appreciative phrase or compliment.

Simple, Classic Expressions to Say Thank You

Let’s start off with some simple, classic expressions you can use to say “thank you.”

If you’re in doubt about the best way to show your appreciation, don’t worry.

A simple “thanks” or “thank you” is always enough as long as it’s genuine.

For more variety, choose one of these common expressions:

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks.
  • Thank you so much.
  • Thanks so much.
  • Thanks a lot.
  • Thanks a ton.
  • Thanks a bunch.
  • Thanks a million.
  • All I can say is thanks.
  • All I can say is thank you.
  • I appreciate it.
  • I really appreciate it.

Use Intonation That Expresses Your Appreciation

When saying thank you, be sure to use intonation that expresses your appreciation.

Your tone of voice is key to making sure the other person understands you’re being sincere.

Showing enthusiasm through your intonation helps people understand you mean what you say.

Without the appropriate intonation, your “thank you” can sound flat or even sarcastic.

To show appreciation through your intonation, you’ll use consistent rises throughout your speech, as well as a normal rise and fall to signal you’re done talking.

You can put extra stress or emphasis on the words that express these feelings of gratitude, such as “thanks,” “thank,” “appreciate,” “thankful,” and “grateful.”

Listen to the video and pay attention to how I emphasize the words in bold:

  • Thank you.
  • I appreciate it.
  • I’m so grateful.
  • We’re so thankful.

If you choose an expression that intensifies your feelings, put extra emphasis on that word by holding the stressed vowel sound.

Once again, listen to the video and pay attention to how I hold the intensifier:

  • I really appreciate it.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Thanks so much.

The right intonation will help you sound even more sincere, whereas more flat intonation will make you sound bored or even annoyed.

When you feel truly grateful, you want to show it through your tone of voice!

Watch the video to hear me compare the difference between sincere and flat intonation on these examples:

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks.
  • Thanks a million.
  • I really appreciate it.

Intonation matters just as much as the words.


Fun Ways to Say Thank You

Besides the classic expressions that we just discussed, there are several fun expressions we can use to say “thank you” in more informal situations.

Native English speakers recognize these phrases as expressions of gratitude, especially when you use the right intonation.

Listen to how I express enthusiasm and sincere gratitude when saying these expressions and then practice along with me:

  • You’re the best!
  • You rock!
  • Props to…Anna/my advisor.
  • I’d love to give a shout out to… my brother/Sarah.
  • Shout out to… my sister/my friends.
  • Hats off to you.
  • You saved my life.
  • You saved my day.
  • You made my day.
  • You’re a lifesaver.
  • I owe you.
  • I owe you one.
  • I owe you big time.
  • I’ll pay you back.
  • I’ll get you back.

The last few expressions show that you’re thankful for the other person’s help and indicate that you’ll be sure to help them out if they ever need it in a similar situation.


Vary Your Vocabulary When Saying Thank You

When thanking the same person for a number of things, be sure to vary your vocabulary.

We don’t usually say “thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Instead, we may say something like, “Thanks a bunch. I really appreciate it. You’re the best.”
Or, “Thank you so much. I owe you one. You rock.”

Using a few different expressions to say thank you repeatedly will help you sound more natural!


Be Specific About What You Are Thankful For

When we thank someone, we want to make sure the person understands exactly why we’re saying it.

You strengthen your expression of thanks by being specific about what you’re grateful for.

Thankfully, it’s really easy to be specific: simply use the word “for.”

You can say:

  • Thank you for your help.
  • Thanks for coming to my party.
  • Thank you for responding so quickly.
  • Thanks for the coffee.

If you use the verb “appreciate,” you want to follow it with a noun or pronoun instead:

  • I really appreciate it.
  • I appreciate you.
  • I appreciate your help.
  • I appreciate your time.
  • I appreciate your advice.
  • I really appreciate your suggestions.

Once again, intonation matters.

Consider how you can express how grateful you feel through your tone of voice.


Expressing Gratitude

Similarly, when we express gratitude for another person or for the blessings in our lives, we need to be specific.

As I mentioned, gratitude is a practice and it helps to name what we’re grateful for.

Here are a few ways you can express gratitude:

  • I’m grateful for your time.
  • I’m thankful for your friendship.
  • I’m truly grateful that you believed in this project.
  • I feel blessed to have such great coworkers.

Saying Thank You in Specific Situations

In American English, we have quite a few expressions of gratitude that are more commonly used in certain situations.

You can start off with “thanks” or “thank you” in all of these expressions.

Here are some examples:

  • Thank you for coming. This is used to appreciate that someone attended your party, performance, or meeting.
  • Thank you for writing. Thank you for calling. These are used to thank someone for reaching out to you via email or by phone.
  • Thanks for checking in. This is used to thank someone for following up if they knew the other person was feeling bad or stressed or sick.
  • Thank you for letting me know. This is often used after you’ve received good or bad news.
  • Thanks for getting back to me. This is used when someone responds to your inquiry or request.
  • Thank you for the gift. This is used after receiving a present or donation.
  • Thanks for the invitation. Thanks for the invite. These expressions are used to show appreciation for being included, even if you can’t attend.
  • Thank you for the kind words. This is usually used after receiving a compliment.
  • Thanks for the support. This is often used to show appreciation when someone shows you compassion when you’re feeling sad, discouraged, upset or emotional. It can also be used to thank someone for having confidence in your ability to achieve something.
  • Thanks for taking the time to [do something]. This is used to show appreciation for a busy person’s time.

Follow Up With Another Appreciative Phrase

As we talked about a moment ago, in order to emphasize your appreciation, you want to repeat or reiterate your gratitude without saying thank you several times in a row.

Instead, follow up with one of these expressions in order to show that the other person’s action, time, or gift truly matters to you:

  • You didn’t have to do this.
  • You didn’t need to do that.
  • You are so thoughtful.
  • You’re so generous.
  • You’re so sweet.
  • I’m so touched.
  • That means so much.
  • That means so much to me.
  • That means a lot.
  • You’ve gone above and beyond.
  • What would I do without you?
  • I couldn’t have done it without you.
  • That’s so nice of you.
  • You’re too kind.
  • You’re amazing.

As usual, pay attention to your intonation.

Lengthening and holding key words can help you express how you feel.


Showing Deeper Appreciation

If words just don’t seem like enough to express the extent of your gratitude, these expressions demonstrate a deep appreciation for the person and their actions.

Be sure to only use these expressions for situations that truly merit your most sincere regards.

Your intonation will be very respectful and deliberate in order to emphasize how much you mean what you’re saying.

  • I don’t even have the words to thank you.
  • I appreciate this more than you’ll ever know.
  • Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
  • I’m eternally grateful.
  • I can’t thank you enough.
  • I’ll never forget your kindness.
  • I don’t think I can ever repay you.
  • You have my deepest thanks.
  • You have my most sincere appreciation.
  • You have my deepest gratitude.
  • You have my utmost respect.

Your Turn

As you can see, there are many, many different ways to show appreciation and express gratitude beyond the words “thank you,” even though that’s a great start.

Now that you’ve learned all about saying thanks, you want to practice these expressions so that they start to feel more natural for you.

Choose three or four expressions that you can see yourself using, and practice saying them with the right intonation.

For a little extra practice, leave a comment below showing appreciation for anything you’d like.

Ready to communicate more effectively in conversations? Learn communication skills that enable you to connect with other people and engage in natural conversations and professional discussions. Get started here.
This article was originally published in November 2016, and was updated in September 2019.

29 thoughts on “Beyond Thank You: How to Show Appreciation and Express Gratitude in English”

  1. 1) I do not know meaningful enough words to express my appreciation for all those thorough and comprehensive examples.
    2) They have given me plenty of food for thought.

    • Thank you for the kind comment. I’m happy to hear the examples helped you and gave you food for thought!

  2. Thts great. Thanks for sharing this masterpiece. Well could u also please share what to say in place of u are welcome when someone says thanks i mean alternatives to it

  3. Thank you soo much dear . Very amazing article. I am happy and grateful that I read this article. Heartiest thank you Kim…😊

  4. This article is one of the best article I’ve ever read,
    Some times we feel so grateful but we don’t have even enough words to compliment,
    THANK YOU KIM
    You’ve my deepest gratitude.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and sincere appreciation! You did a great job expressing how you felt! 🙂

  5. I am so fascinated to learn these beautiful expressions of gratitude, Kim. I am eternally grateful to you..

  6. I really appreaciate this useful information you’ve given us. However, I still have one question: are these expressions differ a lot from British English or not? I’m asking you this, since I’m not a native English speaker and would like to know whether there’re a lot of differences between American and British ways of expressing gratitude.

    • Great question! For the most part, the expressions will be the same between British and American English. There are probably some informal ways to stay “thank you” that are more British. For example, Brits are more likely to say “cheers” than Americans. (You will occasionally hear an American use that word because of their interest in the UK, but it’s really not that common.) Another more British expression is “much obliged” – that sounds very formal in the US. If you’re not sure if it will sound natural, stick to the more basic expressions. Remember, because of British and American TV, we understand each other even if the expression is more from one culture than another! 🙂

      • Thanks a lot! That’s a help. Last but not least : I do apologise for that grammatical mistake I’ve made in my comment (in the question “Are these expressions differ…” at least one word should’ve been changed : “do” instead of “are” or “different ” instead of “differ”). I hope, that didn’t cause any ambiguity.

  7. Your topic was truly saved my life !
    I have enjoyed learning about that.
    I will continue to listen in your nice vice 🙏💯👊

  8. Please accept my deepest thanks. I really appreciate this useful information you’ve given us. But it will be better if you speak slowly.

    (Santosh Kumar Neupane) Mr.

    • I’m glad this information has helped you. Because I emphasize speaking naturally in my resources, I speak at a normal speed in my videos. Remember that you can adjust the speed of any YouTube video to your preference. Simply click the gear icon ⚙️ and change the speed from normal to .75 or lower. On a mobile phone, click the three dots in the upper right hand corner and adjust the speed from there.

  9. Hi Kim,
    Thank you for this post.

    Anyway, which one is correct?

    A sincere gratitude is conveyed to…..

    or

    Sincere gratitude is conveyed to……

    Thanks very much.

    • Hi there – “gratitude” is a non-count word, so the correct form would be “sincere gratitude” without the article. I would probably use “convey” in the active form: “We want to convey our sincere gratitude to X for Y.”

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