Showing Gratitude in French

Merci et Les Autres Remerciements

kid holding flowers and smiling

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You all know “merci”. But there are different ways to say thank you in French, as well as different meanings to the word.

The Common Way of Saying Thank You in French

“Merci” is ‘thank you’. Its pronounced “mair see” with an open ‘ay’ sound, not a closed ‘ur’ sound.

You can make it stronger by saying “merci beaucoup” – ‘thank you very much’. Note that the very is included, you cannot say “merci très beaucoup”.

To say ‘a thousand thanks’ we say “mille mercis” or “merci mille fois”. It’s pretty common in French as it is in English.

You usually accompany a vocal “merci” with a smile, and it implies that you accept whatever is being offered to you. However, if you want to refuse something, you could say “non merci”, or even just say “merci” with a hand gesture, showing your palm to the person in front of you in a kind of stop gesture. You make shake your head “no” at the same time. You may smile or not, depending on how firm you want the refusal to be.

When you thank someone, they may answer "merci à toi / à vous" - in English, you'd say "thank YOU", with the emphasis on the 'you,' meaning "I am the one thanking you".

"I Thank You For" in French

Another way to say ‘thank you’ is to use the verb “remercier”. “Remercier”, ‘to thank’ is followed by a direct object (so it will take the pronouns me, te, le, la, nous, vous, les), and then by “pour” ‘for’, just as it is in English.

"Je vous/te remercie pour ce délicieux dîner". I thank you for this delicious dinner meal.

Note that the verb “remercier” has a stem in “i”, so the final sound will often be a vowel, just like the verb “étudier”.

"Je vous/te remercie pour les fleurs" – I thank you for the flowers.
"Je voulais vous/te remercier pour votre/ta gentillesse" – I wanted to thank you for your kindness.

Using “remercier” is very formal in French, much less common than using “merci”. Click here for more ways of expressing gratitude in French.

Les Remerciements or "The Thanks"

When talking about the thanks, the noun, you’d use the noun “le/les remerciement(s)”, usually used in the plural.

"Tu as les remerciements de Susan" – you have Susan’s thanks.
"Je voudrais lui adresser mes remerciements" – I would like to send him/her my thanks.

No Thanksgiving in France

Thanksgiving is not a French holiday at all, and most French people have never heard of it. They may have seen some Thanksgiving dinner on a sitcom on TV, but probably discarded the info. There is no Black Friday sale in France either. 

In Canada, Thanksgiving is called “l’Action de Grâce(s)” with or without an S and is celebrated pretty much in the same fashion as in the US, but on the second Monday of October.

Thank You Notes in France

It's somewhat less common in France to write "une carte de remerciement". I mean, it's not uncommon, and it's very polite, but it's not like in the Anglo-Saxon countries where Thank You cards are a huge market. If you've been treated to something really special, you can absolutely send a thank you card or a handwritten note, but don't expect your French friend to necessarily reciprocate. It's not rude of them, it's just not that deeply rooted in our politeness.

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Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "Showing Gratitude in French." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2023, April 5). Showing Gratitude in French. Retrieved from Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "Showing Gratitude in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).