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In the acknowledgements section of my thesis, I just wrote:

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent, it is to his credit that I found my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for it.

It is to his credit does not sound right to me, but I cannot seem to find a better expression. What I am trying to say is that he is responsible for me getting into the field, or that it is his fault - but it should sound much more positive of course.

Is there a better phrase for what I am trying to say?

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    "It is because of him that I found...." ?? – CinCout Jan 4 '17 at 11:52
  • @CinCout Thanks! Yes, that would be an option, but it sounds a bit too pedestrian in my ears. I'd like to emphasize that he deserves credit for this. If it's the only suitable phrase I'll take it though. – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 12:01
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    because of him, because of his guidance, encouragement, etc. But "to a large extent it is to his credit that" is verbose. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 4 '17 at 12:08
  • @TRomano Is it only verbose or is it wrong, in your opinion? – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 12:08
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    "because of him" or "thanks to him" are colloquial but not "pedestrian", whereas "to a large extent it is to his credit that" has trouble crossing the street. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 4 '17 at 12:14
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There are many ways to express this, but to focus on the ways that use the words and expressions in your example:

"To a large extent" is fine. It's a standard idiom that means "mostly" and works in this context.

However, "to his credit" seems a bit off. I credit someone with something positive, for example:

I credit him with helping me invent the rotary engine.

But "to his credit" describes a positive attribute or action of that person, and not necessarily what he has accomplished for someone else. It's also often used as an excuse for some other, less positive attribute:

He's not a good speaker, but to his credit, he always speaks the truth.

So in this context I would say something like:

I would like to thank my supervisor, Mr. Rogers. To a large extent I credit him with helping me find my way into the field of theoretical physics.

"I am very grateful for it" is fine but awkward. You can say instead, "for which I am very grateful". The reason I say awkward is because it's not clear what the pronoun "it" refers to. If you like you can state it explicitly:

I am very grateful for his help.

Other ways to express the same sentiment:

I would like to thank Bob Marley. For the most part, it was due to his encouragement that I got into the music industry and I owe him a debt of gratitude.

I would like to thank Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was largely because of his example that I chose to become a professional bodybuilder, and for that I am very grateful.

I would like to thank the Queen of England, without whose inspiration and advocacy I would never have been able to become monarch of my own country. For this I owe her eternal thanks.

  • Why do you say "whose" not "her" please ? – Gamal Thomas Jan 4 '17 at 16:10
  • I'm not sure of the exact grammar term for it, but it's the pronoun in the subordinate phrase that refers back to "the Queen". If I was starting a new sentence I would use "Her" instead. – Andrew Jan 4 '17 at 16:15
  • "It's also often used as an excuse for some other, less positive attribute" - I have suspected as much - thanks for clearing this up, and for the useful examples. – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 17:07
  • @MathiasMüller You are welcome. I added a bit more to my answer to clarify a few points. – Andrew Jan 4 '17 at 17:14
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Original:

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent, it is to his credit that I found my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for it.

Revision:

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent, it is due to his mentoring that I found my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for his encouragement.

Not sure this is better, but it is what I would say.

  • Thanks for your answer! I have accepted Andrew's answer because it is more comprehensive. – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 17:22
  • This is not a contest and I am happy you found what works for you! – WRX Jan 4 '17 at 17:45
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Desiring to express how thankful you are for someone who helped you get into your field. Here are some examples:

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent for helping me find my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for it.

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent, who helped me find my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for it.

Or, simply:

I would like to thank my supervisor X [...]. To a large extent to him for having helped me find my way into the field of Y and I am very grateful for it.

  • Thanks for your answer! I'm not sure your suggestions go well together with "to a large extent", e.g. I don't think being "thankful to a large extent" is a valid phrase, is it? I am not sure whether "all merits go to someone" is a phrase either, where did you find it? – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 12:06
  • Oh, I thought there was an end point after "extent". Haha, sorry, I will edit it in order to adapt it to the: To a large extent. Oh, yes, it's a phrase, it is most likely used in army contexts, the word 'merit' is hardly used in daily speeches. – Davyd Jan 4 '17 at 12:10
  • I am sorry but your examples still seem odd, I know for a fact that they are not fluent English sentences. Using the phrase "help/helping" is a good suggestion though. – Mathias Müller Jan 4 '17 at 17:25

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