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Encountering the Communicative Act

Expressing Gratitude


Why are expressions of gratitude important?

Expressing gratitude is especially important to learn as part of your Spanish pragmatics repertoire because it is a very commonly used communicative act and plays an important role in maintaining positive relationships.

Also, if you study abroad, it is likely that people will help you, take you places, and give you gifts. Therefore, you will want to be able to thank them appropriately. The last thing you want to do is sound insincere when expressing gratitude; however, this is an easy thing to do if you do not have the proper pragmatic strategies available.


When do I need to express gratitude?

Thanking can occur on a number of instances for a variety of different reasons. Below we have made a list of possible contexts that might require an expression of gratitude in Spanish.

Check all of the situations below which you think require an expression of gratitude in Spanish.

Borrowing an item

Having someone else buy your lunch

Getting a tour of the city

Receiving a gift

Using some of someone's time

Borrowing money

Receiving a favor

Having someone serve you dinner in their home


An Example Expression of Gratitude

In order to get an idea of how thanking occurs in Spanish, let's examine a gift-giving situation between Hebert, a native speaker of Mexican Spanish, and Evelyn, a native speaker of Dominican Spanish. Hebert (right) and Evelyn (left) are neighbors at the university and are pretty close friends. Hebert gives Evelyn a gift for Christmas. Play their conversation below. The first time you watch, try to get an idea of the sequence of the thanking interaction.

Do you notice anything interesting about the expressions of gratitude in the interaction?

Now that you have a general idea of what a gratitude sequence might look like, play the conversation again. This time, pay special attention to the specific language strategies that Evelyn uses to thank Hebert.

Make a list of each of the language strategies (e.g., muchas gracias) you find. There are seven total. These can be added to your repertoire of thanking strategies in Spanish.

How do these expressions of gratitude compare with what you would do in English?

In the next section of this unit, we will look at some of these strategies in more detail.


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