I had not really appreciated the significance of appreciation until recently when someone learning English as a second language wrote “I would appreciate you if you correct my English.” Yes, everyone knows that this is perfectly understandable, but the person really wanted strict advice and commented that there is almost no method to verify the correctness of a sentence. For me, learning Japanese is extremely difficult, but I cannot imagine how much harder English must be with all of it’s exceptions – not to mention all of the conversational usage which breaks what rules there are. This got me to thinking about “to appreciate.” Let the rambling begin …

It seems the issue with ‘appreciate’ is that it might seem crass if you say “I would appreciate you if you do XYZ” as it sounds a bit rudely like a bargain. Imagine if you say “I would love you if you buy me this” or “I would be your friend if you do my homework.” This sort of thing is only said jokingly (or extremely seriously to an intimate partner (eg. “I would love you if you stopped dating my brother and sister when we get engaged”)).

If you do want to ask someone to do something for you, rather than saying you would appreciate them if they do it, you would say ‘I would appreciate it if you (would/could) correct my English.’ This way it sounds like you would like the person to do something, but you will value the person regardless of whether they do it or not. Similarly, people frequently say something like ‘I’d love it if we went to Disneyland’ – but never “I’d love you if we went to Disneyland.” 🙂

If you do not make appreciation (or love, friendship, etc.) of a person dependent on some action then you could say “I appreciate you.” So, if the other person has already done something for you or has already agreed to do it for you, then you could say “I (really) appreciate you doing this for me,” “I really appreciate you correcting my English,” “I appreciate you being there for me,” etc.

As a side note, I heard my father simply say “I ‘preciate ya.” Yes, he’s Southern (U.S.). I asked him about this, saying that in California we always say “I appreciate it.” He responded that “That’s the whole difference between California and The South. – Here we care about the person, not the thing.”

Anyway, I hope this is helpfully correct and makes some sort of sense. If not … I’d appreciate hearing from you.

PS: This is marginally related to the differences between North/South alluded to above and seems as good a place as any to input a nifty quote I heard about D.C.. “Washington D.C is a city of Northern hospitality and Southern efficiency.” I’ll put an attribution here if I remember who summed up things so pithily.