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In the last two years or so I began to see people frequently using 感恩 as verb meaning "thank (you)", such as "感恩大家" or "感恩领导".

But I thought "感恩" is a verb-noun phrase, meaning "thank (you for your) kindness", while "感谢" is the phrase for "thank (you)".

Is the use of "感恩" instead of "感谢" a newly emerged usage, or have the two always been interchangeable?

  • Because these people are either movie star or working for the nation, they are too busy , don't have enough time to learn. – wolfrevo Apr 23 '16 at 15:40
  • This is how we say thank you in Vietnamese (cám ơn) or cảm ân when pronounced in Sino-Vietnamese. – oceanus Apr 24 '16 at 15:17
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You are right that 感恩 is a verb-noun phrase. When another noun is appended (i.e. 感恩XX), it means that you are thanking () someone (XX) for their kindness (). Inversion is at play here.

"感恩" carries a degree of formality and is rarely used in daily conversation. It will be awkward if someone uses "感恩" when not speaking publicly.

To rate them in terms of formalities: 感恩 > 感谢 > 谢谢 > 多谢

感恩 is used exclusively in formal context while 多谢 is only used casually. 感谢 and 谢谢 can be used at the user's discretion, though the former sounds more formal.

  • Is such usage more common in Taiwan than in mainland China? For example, I had the impression that a Taiwanese would say something like "我帮忙他完成了一件事" whereas someone from the Mainland would say "我帮他完成了一件事". Here "帮忙" is a similar verb-noun phrase (to me) but used as a verb. – Herr K. Apr 22 '16 at 22:41
  • @HerrK.I edited my answer to address your first question regarding 感恩. I am not familiar with its usage in Taiwan. In mainland China, 帮忙 is either used by itself (as an intransitive verb: 他来帮忙) or with the task you're to help with (他来帮忙搬家 - "搬家" is the task here). – Cosmos Gu Apr 22 '16 at 22:49
  • I think "感恩XX" sounds like the style of Chinese in Taiwan. – velut luna Apr 23 '16 at 14:04
  • I heart it from HK and TW people who are religious. I interpret as a short and sweet way to say "I feel grateful". – judester Apr 23 '16 at 18:04
  • @Mathaholic Do you think people in Taiwan will use 感恩 in less formal settings? If that is the case I will edit my answer to reflect that. – Cosmos Gu Apr 23 '16 at 19:49
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Often we say "感谢" in the oral conversation, but "感恩" is also used in oral, the meaning is more deep. I will give a example:

生活中,我们要学会感恩。

  • But in your example "感恩" is not a verb; it's a verb-noun phrase. – Herr K. Apr 30 '16 at 3:30

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