Posted by: Idioma Extra | March 11, 2010

Thursday’s Tidbit


Both award and reward can be used as nouns and verbs, although there are some differences in the way we use them grammatically – we’ll come to that later. Let’s have a look at reward and then compare it with award:


A reward is given for a positive thing that somebody has done well. For example, working particularly hard, meeting targets, getting a good grade on a test or exam or finding something that someone has lost. This last one is very common and in the United States it is common to see posters about missing cats or dogs or even someone’s keys or wallet which start with the word ‘REWARD’ in big letters. This encourages people to help find whatever it is that has been lost. The actual reward that is given in any of these situations can be anything from money (probably the most common thing) to a special treat like a box of chocolates. Listen to these examples:

As a reward for passing my driving test, my Dad took me to Disneyland for the weekend.

The person who finds my keys in the office will receive $20 as a reward.

My boss was so pleased with my work he rewarded me with two days off.

Note the use of the expressions to be rewarded for something and to reward someone with something.


Similarly, an award is given for something that is done well but it tends to be more formal and is given to demonstrate to other people that the person has done something well. An award tends to be something like a certificate, or a medal or a statue.

Generally, an award is presented in front of other people while a reward is normally only exchanged between the people giving and receiving the reward. Read these sentences:

Louie received an award for getting outstanding results in his employee evaluation.

We would expect that the award was awarded at the conference or at a special presentation event.

Martha was awarded a gold medal for winning the marathon.

(Again, this would normally happen in front of an audience.)

An award can also refer to an amount of money that someone is ordered to pay someone else, usually in a court of law. For example:

Peter received an award of $5,000 as compensation for the car accident.

Note that the use of the passive voice is common here: someone is awarded something and that like with reward you receive an award.

Test Yourself!

Complete the sentences with the correct form of award or reward. You may need to use the verb or noun.

  1. The little girl received a ____________ for finding the lady´s lost dog.
  2. William was ______________ a certificate and gift certificate to his favorite restaurant for increasing the company´s sales last month by 15%.
  3. The ____________ was a bronze statue of the company’s emblem.
  4. The ____________ was $100 and a thank you card.
  5. The company president ______________ everyone at Christmas for a great year with a big bonus.

Answers from the Last Tidbit

  1. Who is coming to the meeting today?
  2. Whom are you going to eat lunch with today? A client or friend?
  3. Whom is Jack staying with on his business trip?
  4. Who do you want to receive the promotion next month?
  5. Who called your office at 5am this morning?

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