Like saying “hello” or “I’m sorry” in French, expressing thanks is one of the most common polite interactions in everyday life, both in conversations and in writing. This is why it’s one of the first polite phrases you’re likely to learn as a beginner in French. But there are many different ways to say “thank you” in French, depending on the situation and the person you are talking to. Pronunciation is also important if you don’t want to make a faux pas. Let’s look at seven ways to say “thank you” in French, in a variety of contexts.
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We’re starting with the basics to say “thank you” in French. The word merci (thank you) is by far the most common and the easiest way to thank somebody. It can be used on its own in straightforward daily exchanges, for instance, to thank a shop assistant for their help or a receptionist at the end of a phone call.
You can also specify what you are thanking the person for, by using either de (of) or pour (for) with nouns or de (of) with verbs:
|Structure||French example||English example|
|Merci de + noun||Merci de votre aide||Thank you of (for) your help|
|Merci pour + noun||Merci pour votre cadeau||Thank you for your present|
|Merci de + verb (present infinitive) for a future action||Merci de répondre (avant demain)||Thank you for answering (before tomorrow)|
|Merci de + verb (past infinitive) for a past action||Merci d’être venu (hier)|
Merci de vous être déplacé
|Thank you for coming (yesterday)|
You can also specify who you are thanking with the preposition à (to):
|French example||English example|
|Merci à toi||Thank you (informal form to one person)|
|Merci à vous||Thank you (to more than one person or formal form to one person)|
|Merci à tous||Thank you to all|
|Merci à Marc||Thank you to Marc|
2. Merci beaucoup
Here is the first of several ways to say “thank you” by adding a little something to the basic merci. The expression merci beaucoup (thank you very much) is just about as common in French. You can also use it on its own or with the same prepositions de, pour or à as with merci.
But there is a bit of a trick with the adverb beaucoup (a lot): it contains the sound ou, which is not to be confused with the letter u from the French alphabet. With the incorrect pronunciation, beaucoup becomes beau cul (nice ass). In other words, merci beaucoup can easily sound like merci beau cul (thank you nice ass). A mistake bound to cause embarrassment or simply hilarity…
3. Merci bien
If you don’t yet have the confidence to get the pronunciation right, or if you find yourself in a more formal situation where such an error might be taken the wrong way, merci bien (literally, thank you well) may be a safer option than merci beaucoup. While a little less common, its meaning and use are pretty similar.
4. Un grand merci
Next comes un grand merci (a big thank you). Like the previous three expressions, it can be used on its own or with the same prepositions de, pour or à. It tends to be used to say “thank you” in French in a more formal way, rather than in everyday, casual exchanges. For the same reason, it’s also fairly common to use it in writing:
Un grand merci de votre participation à notre conférence.
A big thank you for your participation to our conference.
Un grand merci de nous avoir offert un si beau cadeau de mariage.
A big thank you for having offered us such a beautiful wedding present.
5. Merci de tout cœur
The phrase merci de tout cœur (thank you from the whole heart) is a nice way to express the extent or depth of your gratefulness. As such, it tends to be used for greater or more emotional occasions. But contrary to un grand merci, it may be more appropriate to use it only in your personal life rather than in business situations.
6. Merci du fond du cœur
As an alternative to merci de tout cœur, the phrase merci du fond du cœur (thank you from the bottom of the heart) is another heartfelt way to say thank you. It can be used in pretty much the same way and for the same situations as the previous phrase.
7. Merci d’avance
Finally, merci d’avance (thank you in advance) is used for something yet to come, rather than something that has already been done. You will often see it at the very end of French emails, in particular when a request has been made:
Merci d’avance de votre compréhension.
Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Merci d’avance de me répondre dès que possible.
Thank you in advance for answering me as soon as possible.
The rundown on how to say “thank you” in French
With these seven expressions, you can pick the perfect way to say thank you in French in all the situations you may find yourself in, in your personal life, at work or simply in common interactions in shops and other venues. No doubt you will be thankful to know these useful phrases to show your gratitude.
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Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.