You are so awesome!
Really, I believe in you—you can do it!
I mean every word of this.
It feels good to be told something positive, right?
Positivity is also a big part of the culture in the United States, so if you want to learn American English, that’s another great reason to learn these phrases.
Are you ready? Of course you are! Let’s learn 25 positive phrases for complimenting, encouraging, appreciating, giving feedback and congratulating.
Why Positive Phrases Are Important in American Culture
Although positive phrases are used in all cultures, they’re especially important for American culture. Here are a few examples of when they’re often used:
- Playing sports. Americans love sports. The most popular team sports are baseball, football, basketball, soccer and hockey. Positive phrases are essential when playing sports. Coaches and teammates can help each other play better with encouraging words.
- Working. Americans are a hard-working group of people. CNN Money lists the United States as the 7th hardest working country in the world. Being positive helps to make the hard work easier and more pleasant. Americans are also very optimistic (hopeful), which you can read about in this article if you’re interested.
- Teaching. Whether you’re the teacher or the student, learning improves with positivity. If teachers can help their students feel motivated and upbeat, they will learn better. (The same is true for learning English on your own, by the way—it helps to be positive!)
- Building relationships. If you tell your friends, family, coworkers and bosses positive things, they will appreciate your words. They will also then think positive thoughts about you. Can you imagine a world where everyone was saying and thinking positive things about everyone else? It would be a very happy place.
25 Positive Phrases in English
A compliment is something nice you say to someone else about them. You could compliment someone’s appearance (clothing, smile, eyes, etc.), their work (writing, art, etc.) or even qualities you admire. It makes you feel good to give one, and also feels good to receive compliments.
1. Your skirt is so pretty.
If you like what someone is wearing, tell them! Whether it’s their skirt, hat, shirt, shoes, jacket, earrings or nail polish, your compliment will be appreciated. Synonyms for “pretty” include “handsome,” “chic,” “beautiful,” “lovely” and “cute.”
Your hat is so cute. Where did you get it?
2. You look great today.
Everyone feels better when they know they look good. This phrase can be used to tell someone that generally, they look especially good today.
You can replace “great” with words like “good,” “beautiful,” “cute,” “handsome” or “amazing.”
You look really cute today!
3. You’re a fantastic cook.
This structure can be used to compliment any type of person:
You’re a(n) + [adjective] + [type of person].
Instead of “cook,” you could use nouns such as “teacher,” “friend,” “writer,” “singer,” “painter,” “musician,” “listener,” “babysitter,” etc.
And you can use any synonym of “fantastic,” such as “superb,” “talented” or “excellent.”
If your adjective begins with a vowel, don’t forget to use “an” instead of “a,” like this:
You’re an amazing mother!
4. I like your new haircut.
When you notice something different about someone, it’s nice to say something. Whether it’s a new haircut, car, shoes or cell phone case, a compliment makes the person feel like they made a good choice.
I really like your new belt.
5. You have the best style.
Yes, here’s yet another compliment about appearance! And don’t worry, you don’t have to mean that someone is actually “the best” to use it.
This phrase can be used to compliment a few things other than “style,” such as “ideas,” “laugh,” “smile,” “technique,” “art supplies,” “books,” “dog,” etc.
You could also use other superlatives in place of “the best” to make a wide range of compliments, such as “the coolest,” “the most creative,” “the brightest,” “the prettiest,” etc.
You have the best voice. I love hearing you sing!
Sometimes you can help someone a lot by telling them positive words. You can use kind, caring words to make someone feel amazing and motivated to accomplish (do) something. Below are five phrases for encouraging others.
6. You can do it!
This phrase helps make someone feel confident and determined. It tells them that they’re able to do something. The phrase “We can do it!” was used in a famous American wartime poster in 1943.
President Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan (phrase), “Yes we can!” means almost the same as “We can do it.”
To encourage yourself, say “I” instead of “you” or “we”: I can do it! There’s even a children’s book called “‘I Can Do It’ Day.”
This phrase is often used when someone has doubts about their abilities. For example:
A: This engineering exam is going to be really hard.
B: You can do it, Chad!
7. Don’t give up!
Sometimes, instead of telling someone what to do, it’s helpful to tell them what not to do. Because of this, many encouraging phrases begin with the word “don’t,” such as “Don’t stop!” or “Don’t lose hope!” (The famous song by Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing,” is another example of this.)
To “give up” is a phrasal verb that means to lose hope and stop trying. Let’s say a friend tells you a riddle or a puzzle that you try to figure out. After 15 minutes of wrong guesses, you might say “I give up.” Your friend would then tell you the correct answer.
But if you’re working towards something important, it’s nice to hear someone remind you “Don’t give up!”
A: I can’t remember the next line! Ah, I don’t know if I can memorize this poem by the end of the week.
B: Don’t give up!
8. You’re almost there!
This is a great motivating phrase to help someone finish a task or goal. If someone is so close to finishing, why not just finish?
In this phrase, “there” usually does not mean an actual place (though it can). Instead, it often means the state of being finished or done.
A: I’ve been writing this paper for two months. All I have left is the conclusion, but I don’t want to work on it!
B: You’re almost there!
9. You’ve made it this far.
This phrase also points out how much progress someone has already made. They’re not still at the beginning; they’ve come “this far,” or this distance.
The verb “to make” is usually used when you’re creating something. However, the phrase “to make it” informally means to accomplish, finish or achieve something.
It’s also often used to describe success in becoming famous. In that case, “She made it” could mean “She’s famous now.”
But “You’ve made it this far” means that you’ve accomplished this much already.
A: Do you think I’ll ever sell 100 copies of my e-book?
B: Of course you will—you’ve made it this far! You only have 60 more to sell.
10. Keep it up!
One meaning of the phrasal verb “to keep up” is to stay at the same level or pace as something. For example, if you can keep up with your class assignments, it means you can stay on schedule and finish all of your assignments on time.
But the phrase “keep it up” has its own separate meaning: to continue doing well. So it’s used when someone has already been doing a good job with something, and you want them to keep working hard.
This piano piece sounds excellent; you must have practiced a lot. Keep it up!
When you appreciate something, you think about how important it is to you. To appreciate someone means that you value them. The phrases below can be used to let someone know that you appreciate (are grateful for) them.
11. Thanks for your help.
Saying thank you for anything makes people feel appreciated, needed and loved. You can use either of the following structures:
Thanks (so much) for + [a thing].
Thanks (so much) for + [-ing verb].
For example, “Thanks for coming!” or “Thanks so much for babysitting for us next week” are both actions expressed with -ing verbs. In the example below we’re thanking someone for a thing: a card.
Thanks for the lovely birthday card you sent in the mail. It really made my birthday special!
12. I couldn’t have done it without you.
This phrase lets someone know they are irreplaceable.
Similarly, you could say “What would I do without you?” The question isn’t really meant to be answered. It simply expresses that the person is very helpful.
Thanks for helping me plan this wedding. I couldn’t have done it without you!
13. I’m so proud of you.
Feeling pride about someone else is one of the happiest feelings humans can feel. So when you’re really pleased with what someone else has done, tell them you’re proud of them.
Your art portfolio is fantastic—you’ve worked really hard! I’m so proud of you.
14. You’re so awesome.
This phrase is very simple, yet effective. “Awesome” can be replaced with “incredible,” “genius,” “helpful,” “sweet” or any other appropriate adjective.
You’re so talented. You play the piano really well!
15. I appreciate your support.
“I appreciate you” tells someone that you value them. If someone provides you with support, it means they help you or agree with you.
“Support” can be substituted with “help,” “time,” “effort” or any other relevant noun.
I appreciate your positive attitude.
For Giving Positive Feedback
When you judge someone’s performance or creation, it’s important to give positive feedback along with any criticisms (things to improve). This means to point out both something they did well and something they can do better.
In American, the “criticism sandwich” is one way to do this. To make this type of sandwich, you begin with a positive, then a negative, and end with another positive. The two positives are like the two outer slices of bread, which is why it’s called a “sandwich.”
Here are five phrases for giving positive feedback.
16. You did a good job on the project.
You can use this phrase (or variations) to let someone know they’ve done well on a certain task. Here are two possible structures:
Like many other phrases in this list, you can replace “good” with any appropriate synonym.
You can also replace “project” with something more specific. In fact, the more specific you can be, the better the feedback. If you remove “on,” you can use an -ing verb to describe an action. Here’s what the two structures look like:
You did a good job + on + [thing].
You did a good job + [-ing verb] + [details].
An example of the second structure is “You did a good job playing the song at the right tempo (speed).”
You did a great job on your website. I really like the design!
17. Great work on the presentation.
This is pretty similar to the previous phrase, but a bit more casual. Again, you can replace “great” with other positive adjectives, and “the presentation” with other types of creations.
Excellent work on the interview questions!
18. I like the way you give instructions.
“I like the way you…” is used to compliment an action, so it must be followed by a verb.
I like the way you made the headings bold and blue. That style really helps the headings stand out.
19. You are improving a lot.
This tells someone that they are getting better. If you want to follow this phrase with a criticism, be specific about what they can do to continue improving.
You are improving a lot. Keep on practicing English 15 minutes each day!
20. I can tell you worked really hard on this.
When someone puts a lot of time and effort into something, they will love to be recognized for it. This phrase communicates that you know they’ve spent a lot of time carefully working on something.
I can tell you worked really hard on the monthly newsletter.
Finally, to congratulate is to tell someone you’re happy for their good news. You usually congratulate others during a celebration, such as a birthday, a wedding or for the birth of a child.
21. Happy anniversary!
An anniversary celebrates the day a couple were married. For example, if two people celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, it means the couple has been married for 50 years.
You can also use “Happy” for several other holidays and occasions, such as “Happy New Year,” “Happy retirement” and the all time favorite, “Happy birthday!”
Happy 30th anniversary!
This is a word that can be used to congratulate anyone in a variety of situations. You could say it when your friend gets a new job, when your boss buys a new house, when a friend has a baby or when your cousin gets engaged (to be married).
Congratulations on the new job!
23. I’m so happy for you!
This phrase can be used when someone shares good news with you. “Happy” can be replaced with similar words, such as “excited,” or “thrilled.”
I can’t believe he proposed (asked you to marry him)! I’m so happy for you!
24. Good job!
You can say this short phrase to anyone about pretty much anything. When your friend passes his test: “Good job!” When your neighbor redecorates her living room: “Good job!”
This cake looks amazing. Good job!
25. Good luck with your new job.
Finally, you can wish someone good luck to show you hope something goes well. It’s most common to say “good luck” before an exam, an interview or a big performance, for example.
Good luck with your presentation on Friday! You’re going to be great.
Hopefully you’re feeling positive about using some of these positive phrases. What are you waiting for? Get out there and be positive—in English.
People will really appreciate your kind words. You’re going to do a wonderful job! Good luck!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.