Expressing gratitude is a universal sentiment, but it holds a special place in the French language where social niceties are an integral part of the culture. It’s likely you’re familiar with the most basic way to say “thank you,” the French word merci. However, if you’d like to win friends in France and earn the respect of native speakers, you’ll want to branch out and find other ways to extend your thanks.
Whether you’re passing through a door that someone has held open or been the recipient of a favor or gift, knowing different French phrases to communicate your gratitude lends a certain je ne sais quoi. However, not all forms of thanks are appropriate for every setting, no matter how sincere. That’s why Rosetta Stone encourages learners to study and practice French words in context. With this immersive method, the next time you thank your French cab driver or accept an invitation into someone’s home in France, you’ll know just what to say.
Here are eight ways to extend thanks in French, along with the contextual cues to be aware of before offering an expression of your gratitude.
Merci is short, simple but not always on point
You’ll hear merci often, from the airport to the hotel and back again. While this French word is a common way to say thank you in French that works for just about any audience, it can also come off perfunctory and cold. If you’re trying to express a more profound sense of appreciation, you’ll want to be more specific to the situation.
Get more genuine with merci beaucoup
As you’ll discover from your French lessons, merci beaucoup is quite versatile and can be used in almost any context. It also implies a bit more gratitude and thoughtfulness than the shortened version. Beaucoup means “a lot,” so this French phrase roughly translates to “thanks very much” or “thanks a lot.”
Merci bien is a French phrase to watch out for
As you might have guessed, merci bien is literally “well” or “good” and seems to imply something positive. What’s to worry about? Merci bien is sometimes used sarcastically in the same way “thanks a lot!” might be tacked onto a complaint to needle the recipient into feeling guilty over a faux pas.
Gush a bit with merci mille fois
In English, you might say “thanks a million” to be effusive about the depth of your appreciation. In French, you’d say merci mille fois. Mille is actually a thousand in French but it’s the same sentiment. It’s the difference between saying merci to the barista who makes your coffee and merci mille fois to the coworker who just covered your shift.
Je vous remercie is the long way to say thank you
The formal way to give thanks is to use the French verb remercier, but don’t stop there. You’ll earn extra points for saying Je vous remercie and then adding what you specifically appreciate. Just tack on pour, followed by the words for whatever has inspired your gratitude and your fellow French speakers will thank you.
French use avec tous mes remerciements for formalities
When you’re ending a letter or other correspondence, avec tous mes remerciements, or “with many thanks,” is the way to sign off in French. It conveys appreciation and just the right measure of courtesy for the more formal situations business emails, letters, or other official correspondence require.
Do yourself a favor with c’est vraiment gentil de votre part
Impress even yourself by picking up the French phrase c’est vraiment gentil de votre part. It’s the equivalent of the English “you’re so kind,” although it technically breaks down word by word into “this is nice on your part.” It’s a good phrase to keep in your pocket for older people or those who are extending a favor.
Merci, monsieur or madame signals courtesy in France
There’s no such thing as too much sincerity, so sprinkle your merci and je vous remercie around liberally. It’s a nice way to demonstrate you understand the importance of courtesy in French culture. And don’t feel ruffled if you don’t always get an acknowledgment. Some of these phrases, used in passing by those who are not locals, barely get a nod from the French. To go the extra mile to make a good impression, add monsieur or madame to your merci so the French people can tell you’re eager to give their language the respect it deserves.