by Liz Walter
Many of us will have given and received gifts over the holiday period. This post looks at some of the language around this custom.
The nouns gift and present mean the same, though ‘gift’ is slightly more formal. Interestingly, the related verbs have their own characteristics. If you present someone with something, you give it to them in either a formal or a slightly dramatic way. Remember to pronounce the verb with the stress on the second syllable. We don’t usually use the verb gift in everyday contexts, but in legal or business contexts:
They presented her with an enormous bouquet of flowers.
The products featured in this article were gifted to the author by ‘Invogue Beauty’.
We usually meet up just before Christmas to exchange presents.
The Coopers arrived bearing gifts of home-made cakes and jam.
During the time they were together, he showered her with jewels and furs.
If we want to say that a gift we have brought is small or inexpensive, we might describe it as (just) a little something. People often show appreciation for a gift that is not expensive or not perfect by saying it’s the thought that counts:
I’ve brought you a little something to say thank you for all your help.
The flowers were dead by the time I got them, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
A polite way to thank someone for a present but also show that it wasn’t necessary or that you think it is too expensive, is to say You (really) shouldn’t have! Other polite phrases for receiving gifts are What a lovely surprise! or That’s/It’s just what I wanted!
These flowers are for me? Oh, you really shouldn’t have!
A necklace – what a lovely surprise!
Thank you so much for the watch – it’s just what I wanted!
I’ve already got a nice teapot, so I’ll probably take this back and exchange it for some mugs.
If you don’t want the shower gel, you could always regift it.
I hope you don’t need to do this with the gifts you received this year!