This is a passage from my English exercise book:

After spending a day at the beach, I stopped to buy a snack on my way home. But when I searched for my wallet, it wasn’t there. I checked my other pockets, and the car and then headed back to look at the beach. My driver’s license, my ID card – my mind was racing through all the things I had lost and I felt rotten. A search of the beach and parking lot proved fruitless, so I headed home. I tried to forget it because there was nothing I could do, but I was mad at myself for losing it. After dinner when I was watching TV and trying to forget, the phone rang and a voice asked: “Did you lose a wallet? I found it on the beach.” What a great feeling that gave me – not only for my luck, but also for my faith in all humanity!

I guess the meaning of the phrase "what a great feeling that gave me" is "what a great feeling that / which I had". I don't really understand the meaning of the word 'gave' in the sentence. A great feeling gave me what (What did a great feeling give me)? It seems like the word 'gave' might have a special meaning when it goes with 'feeling'. Could you please explain this special meaning in this context?

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    What a great feeling {the discovery and return of my wallet} gave (to) me! That (the discovery and return of my wallet) gave me such a great feeling. a great feeling is what was given; it is not the subject. me is indirect object. Feb 7, 2017 at 17:51
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    I think the meaning of gave is fairly standard here: 14a : to cause one to have or receive The event caused the author to have a great feeling.
    – stangdon
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


In this situation, I believe "that" is part of the reason the phrase isn't making sense to you.

"What a great feeling that gave me..." could be rewritten as "What a good feeling the stranger's kindness gave me..." "That" is a demonstrative pronoun for "the stranger's kindness" (or "the caller's good deed" or any similar phrasing).

"Gave" makes sense because it helps to specify what caused the good feeling. Think of it in this case as a synonym for "caused" or "contributed," not "gifted." It works with things that aren't "feelings."

  • "When the teacher told me that I passed the very difficult test, that gave me a feeling of relief!"
  • "When Bob said the project wasn't due for another two days, that gave me a chance to check it over again."
  • "Susan had come down with a cold. That gave Alice an excuse to go visit."
  • Thank you all. Now I understand 'that' is not a relative pronoun in this context.
    – doquan0
    Feb 8, 2017 at 0:29

An experience can "give" you a particular feeling, meaning it can "produce an emotional state". It's yet another application of the verb "to give".

Some examples:

Skiing on fresh snow always gives me the feeling of flying.

Eating spaghetti with meatballs always gives me a nostalgic feeling -- I always remember how my mother used to make that for me when I was small.

He's such a negative person -- talking to him always gives me the feeling that I've done something wrong, even if I haven't.

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