Difference Between Grateful and Thankful (With Table)

Gratitude is a sense of feeling of being thankful or grateful. It is expressed when someone is really happy towards the efforts made by someone for them. Both the term is used synonymously while expressing their feelings or actions. They have a deep and positive impact on the other person.

Grateful vs Thankful

The difference between Grateful and Thankful is that being Grateful towards something is a feeling, whereas being Thankful towards someone involves an action. Being grateful is another attribute of being kind. Being Thankful towards something is something self-directed. Grateful is expressed when someone needs to be thanked for his/her efforts, whereas Thankful is a feeling of relief.

Grateful is the feeling when we share about how someone has been kind and helpful towards them. Someone grateful will always show their appreciation by the action of gratitude. Someone who practices the feeling of gratitude is eventually related to a lot of happiness and pleasure in a feeling of giving and receiving kindness.

Thankful is a feeling when we appreciate nothing unpleasant or dangerous thing happened. It is a feeling of being polite and grateful towards their helpful nature and being kind. In our moral etiquettes, people are taught the sense of being polite and thankful towards everything they have received from others.

Comparison Table Between Grateful and Thankful

Parameters of ComparisonGratefulThankful
Verbal It is a feeling of appreciation towards something.It is a sense of relief towards any ungrateful event.
Expression It expresses the feeling of gratitude beyond the words.It is a part of gratitude.
Emotions It has a great in-depth sentiment.It does not have the same in-depth sense of sentiment. 
Feeling AppreciationAction
Culture It is expressed with a gift or any token.It is expressed in the language of culture.

What is Grateful?

When a person is felt grateful towards something, they share their gratitude by admiration or by any generous action. This happens when anyone is being helped in any problem or received a gift or any token. That is why gratefulness is considered an act of appreciation towards the other person. 

The act of gratefulness can be followed by verbally thanking the person or by exchanging gifts in return. As it goes beyond the words, it thus involves mindful actions, signs admiring the part they did, etc. The feeling of this act gave you immense pleasure and pleased you because of the kind gestures of giving and take.

Different ways to express Gratefulness are –

  1. Any grateful person can express their feeling by giving away real or any concrete thing to show their appreciativeness.
  2. They can be expressed in journals.
  3. Someone can use any public platform to show their feelings. This can be done in any birthday event, wedding ceremony, social event, award function, etc. They are the right platforms to express the true feelings related to a person or an institution.  
  4. It is now a source of a “paid forward” campaign. People used to favor in response of any kind act happened to them to other people in return. It leads many other people to get motivated, and thus the act of gratitude grows wide and wider.

What is Thankful?

When a person feels pleased or relieve by something about any ungrateful or mishappening does not occur, then the feeling is said to be of thankful. Being thanks towards something is an automatic response of our body or etiquettes we have been brought up with since our early childhood. 

Thankfulness is an action towards something not happened. It is not always necessary that someone has to be thanked for their deed by a gift. It usually involves verbal communication. 

Ways to express thankful are –

  1. A thankful person expresses his/her gratitude by just saying “thank you” after any kindness or helpfulness. Any act of kindness or help follows with a gesture by saying a “thank you.”
  2. The words can be expressed by giving a card or a written note to the person. In the card or note, we can express the reason why the card has been sent. Those words are the feelings of gratitude towards the person. 
  3. It can also be a generous act of favor in return formally. A formal thankful speech can be performed for a wedding celebration, birthday party, awards, dinner party, etc. 

Main Differences Between Grateful and Thankful

  1. Grateful is considered a feeling of appreciation towards something, whereas Thankful is a sense of feeling of thankfulness or relief towards an ungrateful event that hasn’t occurred.
  2. Grateful helps to convey the feelings of being obliged towards something beyond the words of a person, while Thankful is considered to be a part of gratitude someone has. 
  3. Grateful is a feeling of very deep sentiment, while Thankful is not that deep sentiment to be considered enough.
  4. Grateful is the sense of feeling towards someone after any kind or generous act, whereas being Thankful is not contemplated a feeling but is sought to be activated after any ungrateful event or mishappening. 
  5. If someone is Grateful, they can express it by giving a gift or token of love, etc., whereas being Thankful can be expressed by expressing their words of action through actions or verbally.


Sometimes feeling or sentiments expressed by someone is same, but linguistically it has to be express by different means and words. Just like the above terms, the meaning and sentiments behind both the words are more or less the same and are used for the same attributes but cannot be used in the place of each other, Grammatically.

The words are synonym but yet have their different meanings of themselves. Where Grateful is a feeling of being appreciation towards some kind or generous work without any self-benefit while in contrast, Thankful is an action of relief towards any mishappening.

Grateful is touched to the deep sentiment and is expressed by giving away any gift or token of love etc., while someone can express their Thankfulness verbally in their cultural language and is somewhat a less deep sentiment.  

Showing gratitude towards something has always been taught to everyone since the early ages. It is considered an important part of moral ethics and etiquette. The sense of being thankful towards someone always brings happiness and peace to others and self. 


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fcou0000107
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-20160-020
  3. http://ldysinger.stjohnsem.edu/@books1/Snyder_Hndbk_Positive_Psych/Snyder_Lopez_Handbook_of_Positive_Psychology.pdf#page=478
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