It’s important to be polite when speaking a foreign language — and few things are more polite than thanking someone for a gift or favor. It’s also a good practice to thank your boss and colleagues for their help and support. Because there are so many situations in which you need to express gratitude, it shouldn’t surprise you that English has many ways to say “thank you” that aren’t, well, “thank you.”
We’ve come up with this list of words and phrases that will help you show thanks in any situation, from the informal to the formal.
1. Thanks (and its many variations)
“Thanks” is the most common way to say thank you, but there are many different common phrases using “thanks.” These include informal phrases such as “thanks a lot,” “thanks a bunch” and “thanks a million.” All of the above are commonly used in conversation with friends and family.
There are also more formal variations, such as “many thanks” or “my deepest thanks” or “heartfelt thanks.” You’ll likely encounter these more frequently in the sign-off to an email or letter. British English sometimes uses the simple abbreviation “ta” in friendly or familial settings, but it’s quite casual and not appropriate in formal situations.
“Cheers” is not only used to toast a round of drinks. It can also be used to say thanks for small favors, such as passing the salt or holding a door. It’s more commonly used as an expression of gratitude in British English, but it’s not uncommon to hear it spoken in American English, too.
3. I owe you one
“I owe you one” is a friendly, informal way to thank someone for helping you out. What you’re literally saying is that you’d be happy to return the favor and help them out in the future. Don’t worry — they probably won’t hold you to it.
4. You’re an angel
Telling a friend or colleague that they’re an angel is a warm and earnest way to thank them. Reserve it for when you’re really appreciative of a favor. Otherwise, it may come across as sarcastic or a bit strange. This phrase is normally only appropriate in informal situations, though you can try it out on a stranger who does something exceptionally nice for you.
5. I am deeply grateful for this
This phrase can be used in both formal and informal contexts to let someone know that you truly appreciate what they have done for you. You can also try out other variations, such as “I am deeply appreciative of this.”
6. This means the world to me
“This means the world to me” is an English idiom that has become a bit old-fashioned in recent years, but it’s still a nice thing to say. You can use it to tell someone that they’ve done something exceptionally meaningful to you, and that you will remember it for a long time to come.
7. To give credit where it’s due
This is a rather reluctant way to tell someone that you appreciate something they did. You normally don’t say it directly to someone’s face, and you should probably reserve it for people you don’t like an awful lot. It’s often used when speaking about others. For example: “He is so lazy! But to give credit where it’s due, he pulled his weight at the annual field day.”
8. Much obliged
“Much obliged” is sometimes used to sign off formal emails and letters. For example, you might say, “I would be much obliged for the opportunity of an interview at your convenience.” Outside of official correspondence, this phrase is mostly used in formal speech. For instance: “I would be much obliged if you could file this away for Mr. Cosgrave.”
You can also use “much appreciated” in place of “much obliged,” but you may have to change the sentence structure a bit. To use the example above, you might say, “It would be much appreciated if we could schedule an interview at your convenience.”
Thank you kindly, and farewell!
These phrases should give you a broad range of ways to say thank you in English. Remember: Some of them are more appropriate in a fancy, formal setting, while others make more sense when directed toward your dearest friends or family members. And this is just the start. As you continue to learn and master English, you’ll find even more ways to express your gratitude and let kind people know how thankful you are.
Leona has her roots in the South of Ireland, where she grew up on her family farm. She went on to study World Politics at Leiden University College, The Hague and then completed her MPhil in International History at Trinity College Dublin. Leona has now settled in Berlin, having fallen in love with the city. In her spare time she is working on perfecting her German in anticipation of her doctoral studies, during which she plans to study modern German social history. Her hobbies include bouldering, dancing and reading a healthy mix of history books and corny fantasy fiction. You can find more info about her on LinkedIn.