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8 December: Being thankful in French

- Merci beaucoup.

- De rien.

Knowing how to say thank-you-You’re-welcome is surely in the Top 5 of any new language learner’s list, but how about going a bit beyond that? Tis the season to be thankful, so here’s a bit more flesh on the bones:

If you are saying thank you for a thing, then it’s merci pour

Merci pour le cadeau. - Thank you for the present

Merci pour les jolies fleurs. - Thank you for the lovely flowers

Merci pour votre assistance. - Thank you for your help

If you are thanking someone for doing something, then it’s merci de…

Merci de le dire. - Thanks for saying that

Merci de m’avoir accompagné. - Thanks for accompanying me

And remember you can change « merci » to « Je te remercie » or « C’est gentil de votre part… »

C’est gentil de m’avoir invité. -It was kind of you to invite me.

Je vous remercie de m’avoir aidé. - Thank you for helping me.

Merci + de can also be used with abstract nouns and makes it sound more elegant

Je vous remercie de votre attention. - Thank you for your attention

Merci du soutien. - Thank you for the support

Once you have been thanked, how might you reply?

“De rien” is the phrase that we tend to learn, but there are others, which are more common and arguably a little warmer:

Je vous en prie. - You’re welcome

Merci à vous. - No, thank you!

C’est moi. - It’s me (who is thanking you)

In less formal situations you can of course put the above phrases into the tu form:

Je t’en prie

Merci à toi

But there are yet more options:

Pas de quoi. - Don’t mention it

Pas de problème. - No problem

Pas de soucis. - ditto

T’inquiète. -Don’t worry.

(This last one is confusing, but the negative aspect is understood!)

Back in the day when we used to have to be careful of the character count in text messages, the French abbreviation for de rien was ‘2 ri 1’

Regional/international variations

So far we haven’t used an equivalent of the English “it was my pleasure”, but guess what:

In the South of France, "Avec Plaisir" (with pleasure) can be heard

In Canada: "Bienvenue." (You’re welcome)

In Switzerland: "Service." (At your service)

And in Belgium, possibly influenced by the German “Bitte schön” you can say “S’il vous plait” in response to Merci.

So, here’s hoping that you have something to be reconnaissant/e (grateful) for this Christmas.

Avec mes plus sincères remerciements

Andrew Wenger

There will be a new beginners’ French group starting up in January: Thursday evenings at 7:30pm. If you or someone you know would like to find out more details, please contact me via this link

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