Gratitude VS. Appreciation: Digging into the Real Meaning

I saw a really interesting post from a friend and she said that instead of expressing gratitude, she now expressed appreciation. Her contention was that the words were used interchangeably and actually appreciation is a more positive word whereas gratitude can be a more negative one. So I decided to look into it.

These are the definitions according to the online Cambridge Dictionary.


noun [ U ] UK /ˈɡræt.ɪ.tʃuːd/ US /ˈɡræt̬.ə.tuːd/ also gratefulness

the feeling or quality of being grateful:
deep/eternal gratitude
She sent them a present to show/express her gratitude.
Take this as a token of my gratitude for all your help.


noun [ U ] UK /əˌpriː.ʃiˈeɪ.ʃən/ US /əˌpriː.ʃiˈeɪ.ʃən/
appreciation noun [ U ] (VALUE)

B2 the act of recognizing or understanding that something is valuable, important, or as described:
Max has no appreciation of the finer things in life.
The crowd cheered in appreciation.
Children rarely show any appreciation of/for what their parents do for them.
These flowers are a token of my appreciation of/for all your help.

Seeing the Difference

So you can see that they actually are different and my friend is right that you should not be using them interchangeably.

It is actually quite interesting that they are so different and actually more so than I had thought. Feeling is based on emotion whereas recognition or understanding is not. Or you could say that one is from the heart and the other is from the head.

Now I’m not saying that one is more important than the other. Gratitude is a good thing to practise but recognising what somebody has done is also excellent. I think from this, you could say that they both have a place in your life and should be practised every day.

Gratitude is based on yourself whereas appreciation is for others. Both of them need expression and to be part of your everyday life. I am never going to forget looking at these two words and the differences between them or actually use the words in the wrong context now.

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