“Hello,” “goodbye,” “please,” and “thank you” are some of the first words you learn in any language. That’s because these words are the hallmarks of courtesy that are common in nearly every interaction, both between strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family. Getting comfortable saying “thank you” in Spanish is one of the language building blocks you’ll need in order to feel confident having real-world conversations.
A perfunctory thank-you, or in the case of Spanish a quick gracias, is expected. However, sincere gratitude can be trickier to communicate. In Spanish, as is true in any language, learning the right words to use in a variety of situations can express not only your appreciation for a kind deed but also your respect for the culture and its people. Here are eight different ways to say thank you along with instructions about when and how to use each phrase to express just the right level of gratitude.
Gracias is a Spanish catch-all for courtesy
If you’re paying a cab driver or passing through a door someone has held open, a simple gracias will do just fine, thanks. In fact, you’ll notice it sounds quite similar to the English word “grace” because it’s a Spanish word, known as a cognate, that is closely related and may have a similar meaning.
Get next level gratitude with the Spanish verb agradecer
The Spanish verb agradecer is the act of being grateful, so you’ll find it conjugated in all sorts of ways to express appreciation or thanks. Estoy agradecido translates to I am thankful and can be coupled with the Spanish word por if you’d like to be specific. For example, estoy agradecido por tu ayuda means “I am grateful for your help.”
¡Muchas gracias! is an enthusiastic thank-you
Muchas gracias sounds quite a lot like “much thanks” in English. This is a more casual thanks you’d use with your friends, and it also implies a little extra enthusiasm for those situations that call for it.
Translate thousands of thanks with mil gracias
You may have heard someone say “thanks a million,” but in Spanish, it’s “thanks a thousand” or mil gracias. You’ll occasionally also hear Spanish speakers switch it around as gracias mil, but you’ll be grateful to learn the meaning stays the same.
Muchísimas gracias heaps on the thanks in Spanish
There’s muchas and then there’s muchísimas, which roughly translates into “very, very many.” It’s reserved for situations in which someone is doing you a tremendous favor or kindness and you really want to express the boundless depths of appreciation.
Communicate genuine gratitude with te doy las gracias
You’ll hear gracias a lot in Spanish, to the point that will seem like a rote response instead of heartfelt expression. Using te doy las gracias, or “I give you my thanks,” is a more thoughtful and intentional way to capture your appreciation and demonstrate you really understand the Spanish language. Using the right words and conjugations to reflect the gender and number of the audience is sure to set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
Recognize kindness with ¡qué amable!
Casual phrases and slang abound in most languages, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of informal variations of the same sentiment. The Spanish adjective amable means kind, and you’ll notice it gets dropped into expressions of gratitude in lots of different ways. Eso es muy amable de tu parte is “it’s very kind on your part, while eres muy amable means “you’re very kind.” Qué amable is the shorter counterpart and communicates something akin to “how kind!”
Señor, señora, and señorita extends extra courtesy in Spanish
Spanish culture places a great deal of importance on respecting elders and the use of titles, so extending the right terms of address is considered essential for courteous interactions. Señor is the equivalent of “mister” and used to address adult males, while señora is for married women and señorita for unmarried women. Occasionally this can be a touchy subject with women as it implies a judgment about age— young women are usually referred to as señorita—so tread carefully depending on the situation and the audience.