award / reward / prize

A reward is something nice given to a person who has done well. For example:

  • If an employee has worked hard, the boss might give her an extra vacation day as a reward.
  • If a child cleans their room, the parent might buy them a special toy as a reward.
  • If you lose your cell phone and an honest person finds it and returns it to you, then you might give them $100 as a reward.

    Reward can be a noun or a verb. As a verb, you can say:

  • a person was rewarded for the good thing they did:

    The employee was rewarded for her hard work.

  • someone rewarded someone else with something:

    The boss rewarded the employee with an extra vacation day.

    An award is a more formal recognition of a special accomplishment. Awards are usually given in public ceremonies in front of an audience (whereas rewards are typically only between the two people involved).

  • Olympic athletes who win their competitions are awarded gold medals.
  • Some companies give an “Employee of the Year Award” to the person with the best performance that year.
  • The best movies and actors are recognized at the Academy Awards.

    An award refers more to the recognition you receive. Sometimes a certificate, badge, or other small item is given to represent the award – but this simply symbolizes the recognition.

    A prize is something you receive when you win a contest or game. A prize can be money, a trophy, or an object. When kids play games at an arcade, circus or carnival, they can win prizes if they get a certain number of points.