How to Say Thank you in French: The Ultimate Guide
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How to Say Thank you in French: The Ultimate Guide

Knowing how to say thanks is a huge part of politeness. Especially in a polite society like France, a simple merci goes a long way. But what about the times when merci just wouldn’t suffice? Here in this article, we’ll take a look at the different ways to say thank you in French.

For starters, let’s review first this list of French words related to saying thanks in French.

French vocabulary for saying thanks

remercierto thank
un mercia thank you
un remerciementthe act of thanking
Les RemerciementsThe Thanks
Reconnaissant (e) dethankful; grateful
Avec reconnaissancethankfully; with gratefulness
Soulagé (e)thankful; relieved
Avec soulagementthankfully; with a sense of relief
Ingrat(e)Ungrateful
Action de grâce (use in Canada)thanksgiving / the act of giving thanks

How to say thank you in French

Merci - Thank you

Merci is the standard way of expressing gratitude in French. You can use it in all types of situations whether formal or informal, regardless of what it is you’re thanking someone for.

The word itself has a long history: in the Roman times, merci meant “wages” and later on the word evolved to mean “a favor” or “a mercy”. Eventually, the word took on the meaning of thanks that we know of today.

Merci has plenty of variations (which we’ll tackle in a little while) but if you’re thanking many people at once, you can say:

Merci à tous - thank you all or thanks to all of you

What to say when a simple thanks isn’t enough

There will be times when merci just isn’t enough. When you’ve been treated to a gift or kindness so grand that saying a simple thanks would actually seem short of an insult, these are the right words to say:

Merci beaucoupthank you very much
mille mercisa thousand thanks
merci mille foisthank you so much
Mille fois mercithanks a thousand times
Merci infinimentthank you so much
Un grand mercibig thanks
C'est gentil de ta partthat’s kind of you (informal)
c’est vraiment gentil de votre partthat’s really kind of you (formal)
je vous remercie du fond du coeurI thank you from the bottom of my heart

Formal ways to say thank you in French

The ways of thanking mentioned above may be used in formal situations. But if you really wish to be more formal in expressing your thanks, you can say:

Je vous remercie – I thank you

The informal way to say this is “je te remercie” when you’re in tu terms with the person. See also: The Ultimate Guide to Tu vs. Vous.

Another formal way to say thanks is:

en vous remerciant - thanking you

How to Say Thanks in Advance in French

To extend your gratitude for something that will happen soon, here’s how to say “thanks in advance” in French.

Merci d’avance - thanks in advance

This is the most common and the most natural way to say it.

Je vous remercie par avance - I thank you in advance.

The more formal way to thank someone in advance.

Avec mes remerciements anticipés - thank you in advance

This is also a formal way of thanking someone.

Merci d’anticipe - thanks in advance

This one can be used either in formal or informal situations.

En vous remerciant par avance - thanking you in advance

Finally, another formal thanks in advance. You can use this at the end of your letter or email.

Which one should you use--de or pour ?

To be more specific about what you are thanking someone for, any of the French thank you phrases mentioned above will be followed by the prepositions de or pour. But which one should you use?

When to use de

Use de:

  • if it is followed by a verb
  • when you are thanking someone for doing something for you (you are the recipient of an action)
  • When you are saying thanks for an intangible gift

Some examples:

Je vous remercie de m’avoir aidé.I thank you for helping me.
Merci de faire la vaiselle.Thank you for doing the dishes.

When to use pour

Use pour:

  • when followed by a noun
  • When you are giving thanks for an object or something tangible

Examples:

Je vous remercie pour votre cadeau.Thank you for your gift.
Merci pour le hamburger !Thanks for the hamburger!

The Sarcastic Thanks

Let’s say someone borrowed your car and didn’t fill the tank. Or your roommate left her mess on your apartment floor right after you cleaned it.

Wow, thankyouverymuch.

Here’s how to express that in French.

Merci bien - thanks a lot

While merci bien may be used to say a genuine thanks, with a different tone and context, it can be used as a sarcastic thanks.

Let’s see some examples.

The scenario: Your girlfriend cheated on you. After you found out about it, she says sorry and wants you to go back to the way you were before. A fresh start, perhaps. But you’d rather move on with your life. You can say:

Tout recommencer depuis le début ? Merci bien ! J'ai autre chose à faire. - Start all over again? Thanks a lot! I have better things to do.

How to Refuse with a Thanks

Just like the sarcastic thanks, you can also use merci to refuse something. This is similar to “thanks, but no thanks” in English.

  • Non, merci - no, thanks
  • You can also say merci but with hand gestures such as palms out as if to say, ‘stop right there’
  • Shake your head while saying merci
  • Say merci bien but with a tone of refusal

French thank you cards--yes or no?

Thank you cards (une carte de remerciement) are not as common in France as in other countries. Though is not impolite to send one after being on the receiving end of an extra special act, but it is not usual for French people to do so. So don’t expect the same from the French!

How to say thank you in French letters

In French letters, this is usually the way to say thanks towards the end of your letter:

Avec tous mes remerciements - With all my thanks

In formal thank you letters, you can also say:

Je vous adresse mes plus vifs remerciements. - I send you my most sincere/warmest thanks.

see also: How to Write a Letter in French

You’re welcome in French and other ways to respond to thank you

Of course, this lesson won’t be complete if I don’t tell you how to respond to a thank you.

When someone says thanks to you, here are the different gracious ways to reply.

merci à toi / à vousThank YOU (like saying, “I should be the one thanking you”)
C’est moiIt’s me (who should be thanking you)
c'est moi qui vous remercieIt’s me who thanks you
Je vous en prieyou’re welcome (formal)
Je t’en prieyou’re welcome (informal)
De rienIt’s nothing
(Il n'y a) pas de quoidon’t mention it
Avec plaisirWith pleasure

Conclusion

Regardless of anywhere you are in the world, saying thank you is an integral part of being polite. With this guide, you should be able to say thanks in French in the most gracious way possible.

Which way of saying thanks in French is your favorite? Share it with everyone in the comments section!

For more, you can also read these articles:

Useful French Greetings for All Occasions

The Ultimate Guide to French Politeness and Niceties

How to Make Small Talk in French

Everything You Need to Know About French Business Etiquette

You can also check out French Phrasebook by Talk in French. It’s got all the phrases you need to travel confidently in France. Plus, it has a menu guide and a section on French cultural differences, too!

About the Author Frederic

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +

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