How to say thank you in 12 different languages

Why do I have to learn to say thank you

One of the most important things to learn when you are visiting a foreign country is how to say thank you. Manners are very important and if you can’t speak the language, you can be forgiven if you make some effort with words that are used to denote respect and courtesy like please and thank you.

In some countries thank you isn’t as important as it is in countries where they speak English but i still think it’s better to err on the side of caution rather than not bothering to learn it. Luckily you don’t have to remember that much. There are lots of similarities between this word within the romantic language and within the germanic language as well. So really you only need to learn a couple of words and then the variations. And of course you don’t need to learn all of these ways to say thank you in different languages now, you can learn them as and when you need them.

Thank you in 12 different languages

Here is the way to say thank you in 30 different languages and some interesting etiquette of each of those countries or regions.

Afrikaans

Thank you: Dankie

Interesting etiquette of South Africa: When you’re invited to someone’s house to dinner, it’s expected that you arrive on time, fashionably late isn’t really the done thing. It’s also expected that you offer to help with preparations or clearing up after a dinner at someone’s house.

French

Thank you: Merci

Interesting etiquette of France: France has an interesting culture as many foreigners think of them as rude, but I like to think the etiquette and manners in French are just a bit more sensitive. In my experience it is always better to try and speak a bit of French, even if it is to ask if the person can speak English rather than just speaking at them in English. The difference in response is amazing.

German

Thank you: Danke

Interesting etiquette of Germany: I think the most important thing with German culture is be on time. Punctuality is very important in Germany, especially when compared to southern European countries. Really try not to be late but also don’t be too early, a few minutes either way is fine but just be on time.

Dutch

Thank you: Dank je

Interesting etiquette of the Netherlands: Many Dutch people look at English and American manners and politeness as fake and insincere and tend to talk in a more straight forward manner.

Spanish

Thank you: Gracias

Interesting etiquette of Spain: Quite the opposite of Germany, don’t worry about being late for anything. If you tell a time to your friends, they’ll probably be surprised if you show up at that exact time. Also you don’t need to worry about tipping in Spain. You can leave some small change if you’re in a cafe but it’s not really done unless you’re in a nice restaurant.

Portuguese

Thank you: Obrigado if you’re a man and obrigada if you’re a woman

Interesting etiquette of Portugal: Portugal is still quite a conservative countries in many ways so be aware of this when you’re out and about in the country. Also it’s polite to leave a little food on your plate when you finish eating rather than finishing your plate.

Chinese

Thank you: 谢谢 (Xièxiè) Pronounced sh-ye sh-ye

Interesting etiquette of China: For me, Chinese etiquette is the most interesting because on first inspection it seems like there is none. Then when you spend longer in the country you start to understand how things work. My favourite thing is that you don’t have to tip, and I mean you really don’t have to tip, not even loose change. They pay their waiters a fair wage and they add service charge into the cost of the meal so you just don’t need to do this.

Second, food sharing is very important in Chinese culture. If you have Chinese friends or you work in a Chinese office then you will be offered food at some point. It doesn’t really matter if you’re on a diet, just take the food and make sure you bring some too.

Japanese

Thank you: ありがとうございました (Arigatōgozaimashita)

Interesting etiquette of Japan: A big no no in Japan is wearing your shoes inside. If you’re invited to someone’s house and you don’t take your shoes off when you enter then this is a big problem. You should always remove your shoes and often there will be indoor slippers for you to wear instead.

Italian

Thank you: Grazie

Interesting etiquette of Italy: If you are eating at an Italian’s house it is a good idea to only take a small portion at first because no matter how big your first portion you’re probably going to be offered a second and it is good manners to accept. Also make sure you don’t start eating before the host or hostess.

Swedish

Thank you: Tack

Interesting etiquette of Sweden: Unlike the countries of southern Europe, personal space is quite important in Sweden. Don’t stand too close to someone and don’t be over familiar. You probably won’t be touching them on the back or shoulder when you’re talking to them.

Korean

Thank you: 고맙습니다 (Gomabseubnida)

Interesting etiquette of South Korea: In Korea it is important not to make someone lose face, you really don’t want to embarrass them in public. If you have a problem with someone or something gets heated it’s always better to leave it and deal with it later so you don’t make them lose face. This also means sometimes people will tell small lies to avoid this. This can be infuriating to a westerner but it’s a strong part of their culture.

Russian

Thank you: Спасибо (Spasibo)

Interesting etiquette of Russia: One of he most interesting things to me about Russia is that they don’t really smile. Russians think the way Americans smile all the time is fake and disingenuous. Or that it makes you look like an idiot. If you’re met with a stone cold face then don’t worry, it’s not that they hate you, it’s that if they don’t have a reason to smile why would they?

Final thoughts

Try and learn as many of these as you can. When you’re in a foreign country no one expects you to be fluent in the language and everyone knows that English is the international language but that doesn’t mean you can’t show some respect and try by learning how to say thank you and adhering to the basic customs and etiquette.

Good luck and keep learning.

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