We use this expression when we acknowledge or praise someone for a quality they have that we admire. We often say this when someone can do something that not everyone can do. For example, if a friend knows how to talk to kids, and children always listen to him, you can say, "I've got to hand it to you, man, you know how to make them listen." ...or if Tom, your coworker, gives excellent presentations, you can say, "I've got to hand it to you, Tom. Your presentations are never boring. Good job!"
A: What did you get on your essay?
B: I got a B. I heard Sally got an A+ again.
A: I've got to hand it to her. That girl can write really well.
B: I know. I usually ask her to check my homework.
A: Really? I should start doing that. I got a B minus on my essay.
B: She's always busy, though, so you have to pick the right time to ask.
A: Actually, I can also ask my friend, John, and another friend Sue, who's in college now. They both can write well, too.
B: You know, I've got to hand it to you. You have a lot of smart friends.
A: I know. ...and they're very helpful, too.
You get the idea - You know what I mean, right? (see the July 24 blog)
Alright folks, the next time you want to tell a friend they've done a good job, start with I've got to hand it to you, then tell them what you admire about them. For example, I've got to hand it to you. You know how to tell a joke. ...or You really know how to cook. ...or You're a very adventurous person. You get the idea.