Learn English Idiom: To Pat Someone on the Back

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 
To congratulate or Compliment Someone is to Give a Pat on the back

I was in learn English class recent and one thing I do with students, is we talk about their work experiences and the good things that happened to them and the feedback they received.

One student had just had an idea that helped their team be more effective and she was trying the explain that their boss was very happy and said something to them. Normally we would say that:

My boss gave me a compliment thanking me for my help!

Compliment is where someone gives you a good comment about maybe your action. 

Sometimes in English class, I find the word 'compliment' quite boring and not exciting enough. If you include the reason for the compliment then it can be ok, but still very formal.

Another way in English we can express that someone has complimented you would be to use the idiom:

A pat on the back

This English idiom or expression is much more informal, more emotion in a relaxed way and also says that someone has given you a compliment, but it's much more personal and they have come over to you and spoke to your personally, privately and was genuinly happy with you and your performance. We can say:

After I suggested my idea and explained how effective it would be, my boss thanked me and gave me a pat on the back for my efforts.

This sounds much more personal, more interaction with your boss and you did the action for the result not for the rewards!

Other ways we can say this:

  • He patted me on the back for all the work I had done that helped the team! [ past simple tense ]

  • She gave me a big pat on the back and said that my work had really made a difference! [ noun phrase ]

  • I was patted on the back from the boss as they said it was an excellent result! [ passive voice - past simple ]

Try it out and see! 

Leave a sentence and how you could use the English phrase 'To pat someone on the back'

Ajarn Ken


Useful Vocabulary

  • Suggest [ verb }- go give an idea to help someone
  • Pat [verb / noun ] - to touch someone lightly
  • Effort [ noun ]  - to work hard or use more energy than normal in an actionb
  • Compliment [ verb / noun ] - To give someone a good comment
  • Express [ verb ] - To show feeling or meaning

LearnEnglish365 Podcasts