All the ways to say thank you

Published 4:18 pm Friday, November 24, 2023

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By the time you read this column, Thanksgiving will have come and gone. You may still be snacking on leftovers from your feasts or still a bit drowsy from the inevitable food-coma, but the holiday itself will technically be over.

But thankfulness is something so ubiquitous in our society that it isn’t really limited to just one day a year.

How many times do you say thank you in a single day? A single week? A whole month? Or a whole year? Unless you’re just an all-around awful person, those numbers are probably quite high. Personally, I like to say “thank you” for any act of kindness – anything from a compliment on my outfit to someone taking a moment to hold a door open for me. Sometimes, it’s almost like an automatic response, but I do mean the words each time I say them.

When you first start learning another language, “thank you” is one of the first words you memorize because it can be just as important as “hello” and “where’s the bathroom?”

Here are a few ways to say thanks in languages from around the world:

Arabic: “shukran”

French: “merci” (and you can add “beaucoup” to make it “thank you very much”)

German: “danke”

Hebrew: “todah raba”

Italian: “grazie”

Japanese: “arigatou” (with an added “gozaimasu” if you want to sound extra polite)

Korean: “gamsahabnida” (this is the more polite version!)

Malay: “terima kasih”

Portuguese: “obrigado”

Spanish: “gracias” (adding “muchas” in front makes it “thank you very much”)

Swahili: “asante”

Tagalog: “salamat po”

These are only a few examples from the thousands of languages across the globe. While most of our conversations are in English every day, you never know when you might run into someone who speaks a different one and a “thank you” in their native language might come in handy!

Even in English, there is more than one way to say “thank you.” If it’s really casual, we’ll shorten the phrase to “thanks!” or “thanks a bunch!” If we’re really excited about it, maybe we’ll say “thank you very much!” or “thank goodness!” We can even express our thankful feelings by saying things like “much appreciated” or “much obliged” (if we’re feeling a bit old-fashioned). (the experts in synonyms and similar phrases) includes other ways to say thanks as well, such as “I couldn’t have done it without you,” “I owe you one,” “please accept my deepest gratitude,” “I’m beyond grateful,” “it means the world to me,” and “thanks in advance.” Just to name a few.

Thank you cards used to be something that people sent all the time for a wide variety of occasions. They are not as prevalent now – with the transition to more digital forms of communication over “snail mail” these days – but many people still send them.

I’m always happy to receive thank you notes in the mail. I get them sometimes after something I’ve covered for work, and it’s a nice little reminder that I was able to help someone in some small way.

When I was a senior in high school, I remember Mrs. Newbern taking the time to teach us the proper way to write a thank you card. It was right before graduation, so we were preparing for the cards we would send after receiving any graduation gifts. Her lessons were good information because I did indeed have several thank you cards to send in the following few months, and it made it easier to know what to say when I had a guide for what to do.

Simply put, you’ll want to make sure your thank you note includes specific mention of what you’re thanking them for (and what you might use it for, if it’s a physical gift). You can also include other information, but then you should always close by saying thank you again.

I remember my hand cramping up a few times as I wrote all those thank you cards for graduation gifts back then, but it was definitely worth taking the time to express my appreciation and gratitude. I still write thank you notes on occasion because I think it’s a nice thing to do.

Clearly, there are plenty of ways to express our gratitude through words, both spoken and written. But sometimes, saying thank you through our actions gets overlooked. You can express your appreciation through a bright smile or a hearty handshake or a warm hug. You can say “thank you” for an act of kindness by sharing another kindness with someone else, like an unending chain of thanks spread from person to person.

So Thanksgiving may be over, but we still have plenty to be thankful for. If you haven’t already done so, maybe take a few moments to find a way to express your thanks for the good things in life.

And thanks for reading this column!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.