Saying “thank you” is a common way of demonstrating your gratitude to others. It’s an act which strengthens the social fabric and helps to sustain good relationships with people.
However, there are several ways of thanking someone in France, and each comes with its own nuances, which shift according to the situation and the protagonists involved.
So, how do you say thank you in French? How do you express gratitude through practical actions? You’ll no doubt be familiar with the ten different ways to say hello like a real French person, but during your stay in France, will you be able to put into practice the various options for thanking your friends?
The translation of “thank you” in French
depends on a number of conditions. The most common way of expressing thanks is to simply say “merci”. This word, used in the majority of everyday situations, is generally accompanied by a smile. We say “merci” to someone who provide us with a service, and children learn to say “merci” to adults at a very young age. “Merci” can be used to express gratitude to someone you don’t know as well as to someone close to you.
“Non merci” in French
(“No thanks”) is used when you want to politely decline something.
While you’re staying in France, if a friend suggests that you try some delicious snails from Burgandy, but this is not a prospect which fills you with enthusiasm, you can simply say: “Non merci, je n’ai pas faim !” (“No thanks, I’m not hungry!”)
2) When would you say “merci beaucoup” in French ? This phrase expresses particularly strong gratitude, and is used in the same circumstances as “merci”.
3) For those who would like to learn French in France for an immersive experience, “c’est très gentil à vous” or “c’est très aimable à vous” (both meaning “that’s very kind/nice of you”) are expressions which will be much appreciated. “C’est très gentil à toi de m’avoir prêté ce livre !” – “That’s very kind of you to lend me this book!”
4) In more formal contacts, “je vous remercie” (“I thank you”) or “je tiens à vous remercier” (“I’d like to thank you”) can be used in place of a simple “merci”. These are more polite expressions and suggest a high degree of gratitude. They are often used when talking to people you don’t know, in a work setting and so on. “Je vous remercie d’être venus aussi nombreux aujourd’hui à cette conférence” – “I’d like to thank so many of you for coming to this conference.”
5) “Je ne sais (pas) comment vous remercier” (“I don’t know how to thank you”), “J’adresse un grand merci à …” (“I’d like to say a huge thank you to...”), and “Je tiens à vous témoigner toute ma reconnaissance” (“I would like to convey my sincere gratitude”) are all perfect ways to thank your audience if you’ve enjoyed a brilliant career as an actor in France and have just won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival!
6) To express even deeper gratitude, particularly if you have benefited from a friend’s generosity, you can say “mille mercis” (“many thanks” – literally “a thousand thank yous”). If you’re using it in writing, don’t forget that there’s no “s” at the end of “mille”!
7) “Merci infiniment” (“thank you so much”) is a similar expression that is the equivalent of “je vous remercie beaucoup” in French . It is used in situations where you are extremely grateful, for example: “Merci infiniment de m’avoir aidé dans cette situation difficile” – “Thank you so much for helping me with that difficult situation”.
8) “Merci bien” (“thanks a lot”) has its place in everyday conversation but it can feel a bit dry or reflect a lack of tact, and as such should be used with caution. Yet another example which shows that saying
thank you in French
depends on the context.
9) “Merci d’avance” and “d’avance merci” (“thanks in advance”) are, as you would expect, used to express gratitude in advance. It’s worth noting that the variants “merci par avance” and “merci à l’avance” are also acceptable. However, the person you are communicating with
may feel somewhat constrained in that they will feel obliged to do the thing that you are thanking them for.
10) You’ll forge social bonds, make new friends and maintain good relationships with others when learning French in the South of France. Knowing how to say thank you is as useful as being able to talk about the weather and the seasons in French!
But what practical action can you take when in France to thank someone who has helped you or provided you with a service?
If you ask a French person “how do you say thank you in French?” , they’ll undoubtedly tell you that a small gesture is better than a thousand thank yous. Inviting someone to dinner or for a drink, sending a thank-you note, or giving them a bouquet of flowers or a good bottle of wine are all great options – the main thing is to show that you are sincere!