One of the first words you’ll learn in any French course is merci.
It’s the standard way to say ‘thank you ’ in French.
Like its equivalent in English, it’s used frequently in many different contexts.
But there are more ways than one to say it.
If you want to thank someone in French, you might need to widen your French vocabulary and learn a few more variations of the standard merci. That’s just what this post will help you with.
I’ve listed a selection of of variations and alternatives to merci below.
Note: also check out my guide on how to say please in French.
How do we say ‘thank you’ in French?
The standard merci is just one way to thank someone.
Here are a few examples of other ways to say ‘thank you’ in French:
|Non, merci||No, thank you|
|Merci pour tout||Thanks for everything|
|Merci à tous||Thanks, everyone|
|Merci beaucoup||Thanks so much|
|Merci mille fois||(lit.) a thousand thankyous|
|Je vous remercie||Thank you (formal)|
|Je te remercie||Thank you (informal)|
|Merci ma belle||Thank you, beautiful|
Why is it important to say merci and which contexts require it?
Saying merci is obviously important because it’s a polite term that helps us express our gratitude.
When someone does something nice for us in English we automatically say ‘thank you’ (at least we should 😊).
This cultural principle is no different in French.
In the table above, you can see that there are different variations of ‘thank you’ depending on context. Some contexts might be formal (with people who we don’t know, or are unfamiliar with), and other contexts might be informal (with friends and family).
We’ve explored this in more detail below.
Using merci and its alternatives in any situation
The standard merci is a safe way to express gratitude.
You can use it in just about any situation; whether you’re speaking with friends, family or strangers.
Here are two examples:
Merci pour le compliment.
Merci de m’avoir aide
How to politely decline something with non, merci
So, you’ve been offered your third slice of cake from your in-laws, but you can barely fit any more into your stomach.
What should you say to decline?
Negating merci is the most straightforward way to do this. This means you’ll need to turn merci into the negative by simply adding non.
So, to not cause offence you could say:
Non, merci, c’était délicieux mais je ne peux rien manger d’autre!
Merci mille fois and merci beaucoup — emphasizing your gratitude
You’ll hear native French speakers using merci mille fois and merci beaucoup in contexts where they want to emphasise their gratitude.
Because merci does mean ‘thank you’, but there are moments where you might be moved by someone’s gesture and want to emphasise your appreciation. Let’s say you’ve fallen in the street after tripping over on the concrete, and a person comes to your assistance.
The standard merci just won’t do in this case.
You’ll find that merci beaucoup or, perhaps, merci mille fois is more suitable here.
Merci mille fois, vous êtes très gentil.
Merci beaucoup, j’apprécie vraiment.
When to use je vous remercie and when to use je te remercie
There is a subtle difference between je vous remercie and je te remercie, which is that they are used in different contexts.
Je vous remercie is typically used in formal contexts, with strangers whereas je te remercie is normally reserved for informal situations. You’ll notice that the only difference, grammatically, between these phrases is the fact that one uses the word vous and the other uses the word te.
As vous is used when you address strangers, and te for family or friends, it’s important to distinguish between these two phrases.
How to respond in French when someone thanks you for helping them
So, you now know a range of ways to say ‘thank you’ in French.
But what if someone thanks you for something? How should you respond, other than with an awkward silence?
Here are a couple of phrases that help you emphasise how happy you were to help:
- Avec plaisir — with pleasure
- De rien — it’s nothing
- C’est rien de tout — it’s nothing
- Je vous en prie — you’re welcome (formal)
- Pas de problème — no problem
Practice until you get it perfect: start saying ‘thank you’ in French
You’ve got the knowledge, now what? You’ll have to use these French phrases frequently so you don’t forget them.
Keep in mind the difference between formal and informal contexts and you’ll soon be able the most appropriate phrases to say ‘thank you’ in French!
Do you have any other examples of ways to say ‘thank you’ in French?
Share them below!