ICAO Level 5 Vocabulary: How to Express Gratitude in English

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to focus on the ways we can express gratitude in English.

  1. Thank you vs. Thanks

  •  Thank you is slightly more formal.
  •  Thanks is often followed by a name: Thanks Jim!”



  1. Appreciate [formal]

    On the other hand, we can express gratitude in a formal way. A verb “appreciate” is a good choice:

    “I really appreciate all the time you spent with me during this weekend.”

  2. IOU [informal]

When you listen to Marillion “Lavender”…

… you’ll hear “I.O.U. for your love, I.O.U. for your love.”

What does it mean? It’s an INFORMAL abbreviation for “I owe you” when you want to thank somebody for help and you want to do something in return in the future.

Thanks for your invaluable help, Anne – I owe you.

  1. Grateful

Grateful + TO somebody

“I’m grateful to you after all you’ve done to me.”

…. but grateful for something…

“I’m grateful (TO you) FOR giving me a lift to my workplace.”

… grateful for + verb+ING:

“I’m grateful TO her for lending me a crime story I always wanted to read.”


  1. Other expressions of thanks:

“This means a lot to me”

“I’m so thankful to have you in my life” + a strong emotional value is emphasized

Which of these phrases do you find the most useful? Which one is new for you? Please let me know in the comments below!