Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

compliment work English

Do you like to give compliments?

Do you know how to give great compliments in English without sounding weird or creepy?

Today we will show you how to give a good compliment at work when you talk to someone about a project they have just completed or a presentation that they have given.

Today we’ll take a question from a listener:

I am Kay and I have lived in New York City for two years. I know there is a difference between good and great. But is there some degree of difference between excellent and top-notch? Which one is a better (higher) compliment? How about: amazing, fantastic, brilliant? Is it just personal preferences or do native speakers actually differentiate them?


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Good question!

The first thing to think about is context.

It’s all about context.

What kinds of compliments are we talking about?

What kind of environment are you in?


For today let’s say we are in the workplace and we are in a small group meeting.

Let’s imagine we are giving our colleagues feedback on their work.


To answer your question about the words “excellent” and “top-notch” and which one is better, they are both great.

I don’t think it’s a hierarchy, but I would say that “top notch” sounds more interesting.

It is used less frequently which means it makes you a more dynamic speaker and would get you a higher score on the IELTS Exam.

It might also sound more conversational or more casual.


Here are some other ways to offer a compliment:

  • Excellent
  • Top-notch
  • Amazing- This is overused. The thing that you are complimenting should be really, really great if you want to use this.
  • Fantastic
  • Brilliant- This is more common in British English.
  • Informative, well done, thorough, well prepared – These are a bit more targeted to the content and how much work the person put into it.


Try these structures:

  • “What a (top-notch, fantastic) presentation that was/you gave.”
  • “I thought your proposal was (well done, very thorough/well prepared, amazing, brilliant)”
  • “I was so impressed by (your comment at the meeting, your leadership skills)”


Don’t shy away from giving compliments if you really feel someone deserves one.

Go for CONNECTION with your colleagues.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.


What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.


Listen to Episode 403 to get the best way to accept a compliment in English.


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