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Monday, October 10, 2011

ESL Teacher Blog: Saying Thank You - Both Literally and Metaphorically

It’s often to the surprise of ESL students that seemingly simple and well-known phrases turn out to mean something different than they would expect.

While ‘thanks for giving me a ride home’ has a genuine message of gratitude and appreciation, ‘thanks (a lot) for spoiling my day’ implies irony.  ‘Thank you for cleaning it up’ is rather an insistent request and ‘Your body will thank you for it’ talks about a positive outcome of a particular action (it’s also uses ‘thank’ as a verb).

To help your students recognize the different nature of ‘thank’ (as a noun or verb), have them make sample sentences with more common uses of ‘thank you’ (preferably in a context) and specify its function:

1. Expressing gratitude/appreciation: Thanks for the flowers.

2. Accepting an offer: Can I give you a hand with making breakfast? That would be great, thanks.

3. Declining an offer politely: Something to drink? No, thank you./I’m good, thank you.

4. Making a polite formal request: We’ll thank you for any kind of help.

5. Expressing relief: Thank God It’s Friday!

Now have them discuss the metaphorical meanings of ‘thank’:

6. Intensifying a command/request: Thank you for not smoking in my house.

7. Holding responsible for something: Thank you for ruining my dress.

8. Blaming: You only have yourself to thank for what happened.

9. Warning about an unpleasant outcome: She won’t thank you for revealing her age.

10. Expressing disapproval/criticism: "The report is due tomorrow." "Thanks for reminding me." (=don’t bother me, there’s no need to remind me, I’m very well aware of the deadline).
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:07 PM
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