How to use Reward and Award

First of all, 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 UK 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 London for the weekend.

The person who finds my cat will receive £100 as a reward.

I’m so pleased with your work I’m going to reward you with two days holiday.

Note the use of the expressions to be rewarded for something andto 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 areward is normally only exchanged between the people giving and receiving the reward. Listen to these sentences:

Louie received an award for getting outstanding results in the maths exam.

We would expect that the award was awarded in the school assembly or at a special presentation event.

Vineet 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 £5000 as compensation for the car accident.

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

I hope this makes it clearer. The main thing to bear in mind is that while both are given for something that has been done well, anaward tends to be something bigger and more important than areward, usually given in front of other people.

More examples

At the White House on Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama doled out awards to after-school arts programs, including the DREAM program at CityDance, where the Obamas’ daughter Sasha takes hip-hop classes.

The winner of the Costa children’s book award also has the chance to win the overall Costa (and £30,000!) – that hasn’t happened since 2001 when Philip Pullman won with The Amber Spyglass, so it’s about time…

In the restaurant world, this is the time to vote for nominees for the James Beard Foundation awards, also dubbed “the Oscars of the food world” by Time magazine.

Using the same example, a gold member would earn about 12 percent more reward miles, while a platinum member would earn 20 percent fewer miles.

Virginia hoping to end season with victories as a reward to senior class

Russia’s FSB security service has offered a $50 million reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for downing a passenger plane over Egypt.

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Note: This article has been adapted from the following source.




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