How to Say Thank You in 35 Different Languages Around the Globe
As a language learner, you are also learning a new culture.
Manners and etiquette differ from culture to culture.
For example, you’ll need to alter your table manners in China or Japan and give strong handshakes in Europe.
But some of the most important etiquette you can learn is how to show proper gratitude. And the simplest way to show it, across almost all cultures, is with a sincere thank you.
35 Different Ways to Say Thank You Internationally
If you’re embarking on an international adventure—or if you just want to be prepared to show gratitude to anyone you meet in life—it’s good to learn how to say thank you in different languages:
|Language||How to Say "Thank You"|
|Cantonese||唔該 (m̀h gōi)|
|Khmer||ឣរគុណ (au kun)|
Here’s a closer look at how you can express your gratitude in each of these languages:
1. Afrikaans: Dankie
Dankie works for most situations, but to say thank you very much, use the longer expression Baie dankie, where baie means a lot.
2. Arabic: شكرا (shukraan)
While this is the more general thank you in standard Arabic, you can get a little more specific and say شكرًا لك (shukraan lak) when talking to a male or شكرًا لكي (shukraan laki) when talking to a female. It’s not a necessity to add those words, but it’s a nice touch.
3. Bengali: ধন্যবাদ (dhonnobad)
A longer version of this would be আপনাকে ধন্যবাদ (apnake dhonnobad) if you’re in a very formal situation or thanking someone older than you. For friends and loved ones that you’re close to you would say তোকে ধন্যবাদ (toke dhonnobad) instead.
4. Cantonese: 唔該 (m̀h gōi)
You generally use this when thanking someone for an act or service, while 多謝 (dòjeh) is used to thank someone for a gift or compliment.
5. Czech: Děkuji
Another variation of this that you might hear is děkuju, which basically has the same meaning! For more casual speech, you can even shorten both of these to díky.
6. Dutch: Dank je
If speaking formally, it’s better to use dank u wel.
7. Finnish: Kiitos
This is the most common way of thanking someone, but you can use kiitos paljon in cases where you’re extremely grateful to someone.
8. French: Merci
Short and sweet is the basic French word for thanks, merci. You may hear people thank one another with merci mille fois, which equates to a thousand thanks.
9. German: Danke
If someone offers you something, it’s better to use bitte to say thank you in German. Danke, in that context, may give off the impression that you’re declining the offer.
10. Greek: ευχαριστώ (efcharistó)
It’s also acceptable to pat your chest with one hand as a small gesture conveying your thanks.
11. Hawaiian: Mahalo
You may choose to say mahalo nui loa, which means thank you very much. This word has a rich and interesting history worth reading about!
12. Hebrew: תּוֹדָה (toda)
In Hebrew, you can thank anyone with תּוֹדָה (toda), whether a close friend or your manager at work. If you want to show that you’re very grateful, there’s also תּוֹדָה רַבָּה (toda raba).
13. Hindi: धन्यवाद (dhanyavaad)
This is quite a formal way of thanking someone. You can use शुक्रिया (shukriya) which is informal. Although neither of these are actually used very liberally in Indian culture.
14. Icelandic: Takk
This is a common way of saying thank you, but you may also use Þakka þér fyrir, which means thank you very much.
15. Indonesian: Terima kasih
Terima means to accept, while kasih means love—so this Indonesian phrase for thank you literally means to accept the love. You can use this in formal situations, but with someone that you already know well, you can shorten this to makasih.
16. Italian: Grazie
You can emphasize your gratitude by saying grazie mille, but be warned that this can sometimes be perceived as sarcasm!
17. Japanese: ありがとう (arigatou)
Use this thank you with family and friends, but not with someone of a higher social status, like your teacher or your boss. For them, you may use the slightly more polite ありがとうございますいます (arigatou gozaimasu).
18. Khmer: ឣរគុណ (au kun)
This is often paired with a sampeah, which is a gesture where you put your hands together and bow your head slightly.
19. Korean: 고마워 (gomawo)
Use this expression for thank you informally. To show respect to strangers or those of a higher status, add 요 (yo) to the end. With someone of a higher social status, you’ll be safer using 감사합니다 (gamsahabnida), which is much more respectful.
20. Mandarin: 谢谢 (xièxie)
This is the main way to say thank you in Mandarin, but you can also use 多谢 (duōxiè), which is the equivalent of thanks a lot, to amplify the gratitude.
21. Nepali: धन्यवाद (dhanyabād)
You can even add धेरै (dhērai) or a lot for a stronger expression of gratitude: धेरै धेरै धन्यवाद (dhērai dhērai dhanyabād).
22. Persian: سپاسگزارم (sepās-gozāram)
The literal translation for this is I am grateful. In everyday situations, you can go with مرسی (mersi), which comes from French but is commonly used in Persian.
23. Polish: Dziękuję Ci
You can also use a simple dzięki (thanks) or dziękuję bardzo, which means thank you very much.
24. Portuguese: Obrigado
Obrigado is used when spoken by a man, while women use obrigada. Choose the proper word ending according to your own gender!
25. Romanian: Mulţumesc
This is common, but you can also use îți mulțumesc which is informal.
26. Russian: Cпасибо (spasibo)
You may also use Большое спасибо (bolshoe spasibo) or, when trying to show immense gratitude, огромное спасибо (ogromnoye spasibo).
27. Spanish: Gracias
It seems that most of the world’s inhabitants are already familiar with the Spanish word for thank you, gracias. There’s also muchas gracias or muchísimas gracias for even more emphasis.
28. Swahili: Asante
An alternative is nashukuru, which literally means I appreciate you. Another word for thank you would be shukrani, although it’s not used as often.
29. Swedish: Tack
It’s quite common to say tackar (thanks) or tack så mycket (thanks so much), the latter of which is just slightly more formal but still used in everyday situations.
30. Tagalog: Salamat
For thank you very much instead, the expression is maraming salamat. If you’re talking to an older person and you want to be respectful, many people also add po, so you would say salamat po.
31. Thai: ขอบคุณ (khàaw-khun)
This phrase works on its own, but it sounds more natural to add a particle after for your gender. For example, if you’re female, you would say ขอบคุณค่ะ (khàap-khun ka), but if you’re male, you’d say ขอบคุณครับ (khàap-khun krab) instead.
32. Turkish: Teşekkür ederim
This is an expressive way of saying thank you in Turkish, when another person has done something really special for you. For a more casual expression, there’s also teşekkürler, which is similar to thanks in English.
33. Ukrainian: Дякую (dyakuyu)
In the more Eastern parts of Ukraine, Спасибі (spasybi) is also used, although it’s still less common.
34. Urdu: شکریہ (shukriya)
In Pakistan, even people who speak other regional languages will be able to understand this! To make it even more appreciative, you can say thanks a lot with بہت شکریہ (bohat shukriya).
35. Vietnamese: Cảm ơn
Remember to use tones with this! Cảm is pronounced with a broken falling tone, while ơn uses the flat tone. You’ll also typically have to add a pronoun after such as bà for an older woman or ông for an older man to make it sound more polite.
How to Express Your Gratitude Anywhere in the World
Besides saying thank you, what’s the best way to express gratitude? There are a lot of acceptable ways to do it, and each country has its cultural norms that are best observed when you’re there.
Here are some examples:
- In Japan, there are different levels of gifts and manners to keep in mind. It is customary to bow as you accept a gift using both hands.
- In most Western cultures, it’s appropriate to show appreciation for a meal by thanking the host (or chef in some cases). But in China and Japan, they’ll see your appreciation when you slurp your meal up or burp at the end as an expression of real satisfaction and gratitude.
- In China, thanking people for every small gesture of kindness can be taken as a sign that you’re being disingenuous. In a way, the less traditionally polite you are, the friendlier you’ll appear.
- In India, a simple thank you can actually be a bit offensive. This is because it’s expected that you’re grateful and you’ll reciprocate in the future, so there’s no need to say thank you out loud.
What can you do when you’ve just landed in a new country? Pay close attention to what the locals do and try to figure out what the courteous customs are. If that doesn’t work for you, befriend a local and ask them about customs directly.
You might also find, as a language learner, that researching a culture will aid you in your language learning experience.
One effective (and entertaining) way to understand foreign cultures is by engaging with media from that culture. Not only are you learning the language, but you’re learning about customs, gestures and more. FluentU can be helpful for this because it immerses you in short, authentic native videos in your target language while teaching you useful phrases in context.
There you have it! You’re now ready to receive all manner of nice things and express your appreciation and gratitude no matter where you are.
Just remember that it’s not always about what you say, but what you do that matters.