Life skills tip of the week: ways of saying thank you

Posted by on April 29, 2014

Macmillan Life Skills: language is a life skillAs part of this year’s pragmatics series, we bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself.

The previous language tip looked at ways of apologizing.

This week’s tip gives some ways of thanking someone:

Thanks and Thank you are the most usual ways of telling someone you are grateful for something they have said or done. Thank you is slightly more formal.

If you want to emphasize your gratitude, or be very polite, you can say Thanks a lot, Thanks very much, Thank you very much, or Thank you so much:
Thank you for your kind words.
‘You’re looking well.’ ‘Thanks.’
Thanks for dinner – it was great.
Thanks a lot for all your help.
Thanks very much for looking after the kids.

Thanks a bunch is an informal way of thanking someone, but is often used sarcastically, when telling someone that something they did was not helpful or kind. Both Thanks a lot and Thanks very much can also be used in this way:
You told Tony what I said? Thanks a bunch!
Thanks a lot for spoiling my evening.

Much obliged is a very formal way of thanking someone for something they have done for you:
I am much obliged to you for your patience during the recent difficulties.

You’ve saved my life and I owe you one are informal ways of thanking someone who has helped you in a difficult situation. Cheers is another informal way of thanking someone, used in British English:
Thanks for the lift. You saved my life.
Thanks a million. I owe you one.
‘Here’s that book you wanted to borrow.’ ‘Oh, cheers.

You shouldn’t (have) is used when someone gives you a present:
Oh, Martin, what lovely flowers. You shouldn’t have!

You’re too kind is a polite way of thanking someone that can sound insincere:
Thank you for saying that. You’re too kind.

I’d like to thank… is used when thanking people in a formal speech:
I’d like to thank everyone for coming along and supporting us today.

Many thanks is a formal way of saying thank you used in letters and emails:
Many thanks for the lovely present.

Would you like to learn more about pragmatics? Keep a close eye on our pragmatics page where the third of our life skills lesson plans was published last week. For more information about Life Skills, visit the Macmillan Life Skills page.

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Comments (7)
  • […] THANK YOU […]

    Posted by Life skills – vocabulary tips | Marju's English Blog on 1st May, 2014
  • What about “I appreciate that” ?

    Posted by Alex on 2nd May, 2014
  • […] Macmillan Dictionary Blog  to thank for giving me the idea and resource. I’ve used their post and added my comments to […]

    Posted by English Skills : 13 ways of saying “Thank You”. | English with a Twist on 11th May, 2014
  • I’ve noticed ‘ Very many thanks’ is being used. Is this accepted as correct?

    Posted by Diana Abela on 26th October, 2015
  • Hi Diana. ‘Many thanks’ is a very usual, if formal, way of expressing thanks and I suppose ‘very many thanks’ just takes it a step further. It strikes me as quite formal and a bit effusive; people seem to use it when ‘many thanks’ isn’t emphatic enough. I can’t see there being any objections to it.

    It’s not all that frequent in the corpus: here are some examples:
    Very many thanks to everyone that has already booked.
    As ever, very many thanks, Mary and Jimmy.
    and even more emphatically:
    Again very, very many thanks for your letter.

    Posted by Liz on 27th October, 2015
  • Hi Luke, sorry, only just noticed your comment. ‘I appreciate that’ is a good way of saying thank you when you are grateful to someone for something they have done.

    Posted by Macmillan Dictionary on 27th October, 2015
  • Thank you for your helpful reply.

    Posted by Diana Abela on 27th October, 2015
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