Thankful or Grateful — Which Are You?

November is the month to be thankful…to give thanks. The fourth Thursday is always Thanksgiving. But are we also grateful? Dare we say…what gives?

These are the quandaries communication geeks like to explore here at Write On Target.

This is also the month everyone is writing about the attitude of gratitude, keeping a gratitude journal, encouraging a culture of gratitude at work. We, too, usually write a blog on a similar topic, with a spin on employee communications.

But this year, we got caught up in meaningful conversation. As in, what’s the meaning behind these two words, and are they interchangeable? Turns out…sorta, if you’re not a word nerd. Sure, they’re synonyms, but if you really want to convey the nuance in a sentence, it takes some thought.

First, the Definitions
OxfordPleased and relievedShowing an appreciation of kindness
Merriam-WebsterConscious of benefit receivedA feeling of appreciation
Now, the Nuances

Thankful seems, by definition(s), a bit of a temporary or passing emotion. Grateful, on the other hand, seems deeper…and active. Both definitions of grateful use the word “appreciation,” which both sources somewhat define as “recognizing the quality or worth of something or someone.”

In reading about these two words, we came across other nuggets of nuance wisdom:

  • Thankful is the entry level for grateful.
  • Thankful is a passing moment. Grateful is a state of being.
  • Thankful is a feeling. Gratitude is an emotion.
The Two Together This November

You can be thankful there’s one last dinner roll in the basket, and grateful for the friends and family at the table.

Here at Write On Target, we’re thankful the office pup, Vinny, visits our desks during the day. And we’re grateful to work for a woman-owned business, and with the smartest, funniest, kindest crew you can imagine.