Free English Lessons

How to Thank People in English – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 2 September, 2016 , No comments

Have you ever received a really nice present, been invited to a wedding or had a close friend who did you a big favour? How would you thank people in these different situations? In this lesson, you can learn different ways to thank people in English.

1. How to Thank Someone Politely

Imagine it’s your birthday, and you’re at work. Not the best place to be on your birthday, but then your co-worker gives you a present!

It was completely unexpected. Although you have a good, professional relationship with your co-worker, you’re not close friends.

So, what do you say?

You could simply say:

  • Thank you.
  • Thank you very much.

Although polite, this is quite basic. So what else could you say to them?

It’s a good idea to use this expression and build on it—you could thank them for remembering you or thinking of you.

Have a look at these examples:

  • Thank you very much for remembering my birthday.
  • Thank you very much—I really appreciate this.
  • What a lovely surprise! Thank you very much.

All of these examples are polite and more formal, making them appropriate for talking to your boss or your colleagues, for example.

Another good way to thank someone in this situation is to compliment them.

You could tell her:

  • Thank you—what a lovely gift!
  • This is very thoughtful of you, thank you.
  • Thank you for being so generous.

These are all polite, friendly ways to thank someone that will make them feel appreciated!

2. How to Thank Someone You Know Well

Now that you know how to politely thank somebody, let’s look at how to thank a friend or family member.

Imagine your best friend gives you an amazing present that you really love. If you told them thank you very much for remembering my birthday, it would sound strange! This is a formal phrase and you wouldn’t use it with people you’re close to.

So how can you thank people in English more informally?

You could simply say:

  • Thanks!
  • Thanks so much!

If your best friend gave you something you’re very excited about, you could add an interjection before saying thank you, to show how enthusiastic you feel about the present.

For example:

  • Wow! Thanks so much!
  • Oh my god, thank you!

Although simple, both of these phrases are very informal and show how much you love the present.

You could also use the expressions:

  • You shouldn’t have!
  • That’s so kind!
  • You’re too sweet!

Of course we don’t really mean that they shouldn’t have given you a present or that they are literally too sweet! These are expressions in English that mean you really appreciate the present and how kind the person was to give it to you.

The expression you’re too sweet would probably be said to or by a woman. It’s not something men would normally say to each other!

3. Thanks for Coming!

Okay, hopefully by now you should have a good idea of how to thank people in English for giving you a present, both formally and informally.

But, what if you need to thank somebody for something different?

For example, imagine you’re having a party in your apartment. You’ve decorated and invited all your closest friends and family to celebrate with you.

How do you thank them for coming to your party?

You could simply say:

  • Thanks for coming!
  • I’m glad you made it!

Both of these phrases are more informal.

Now imagine that you’re having a more formal party at a restaurant or bar with your colleagues. You want to thank them for coming more politely.

You could also tell them:

  • Thanks for coming.

This is quite a neutral expression and works well in both situations.

If you’re not sure what to say when you thank someone, a good rule is to thank them for something specific. Have they given up their time for you? Have they made an effort? Tell them that! People like being appreciated and will welcome it.

For example:

  • I appreciate you coming.
  • Thanks for taking the time to come.

4. Thank You for Your Advice

Okay, now imagine that you’re having a problem in your personal life. You don’t know what to do, so you call a good friend for advice. They spend an hour on the phone giving you some great ideas and advice on how to solve your problem—how would you thank them for this?

You could say:

  • I owe you one!
  • You’ve saved my life!

These are both informal phrases that you can use when speaking to a close friend.

You could also thank them simply by saying something like:

  • Thanks for your help.
  • Thanks for listening.

Remember, if you’re not sure what to say, it’s a good idea to think of what you’re grateful for, and tell that person.

Now, imagine that your problem is at work. You’re preparing for an important meeting, but you don’t really understand what you have to do.

You go over to your co-worker, Sally, and ask her for help. Sally patiently explains what you have to do and gives you some useful advice for the meeting.

What can you say to Sally to thank her?

If you know Sally quite well, you could say something like:

  • Thanks for your advice.
  • Thanks for your time.

Both of these phrases are more formal, but simple. They’re a good ‘middle’ choice.

If you don’t really know Sally at all and you want to be more formal, it’s typical to write a short thank-you note or email.

Here are some expressions you could use:

  • Thank you for taking the trouble to help me.
  • Thank you, your support is greatly appreciated.
  • Many thanks for your assistance.
  • Much obliged for your advice.

All of these phrases are very formal and politely thank Sally for taking time out of her day for you.

Much obliged is a phrase we use to say that we are very grateful in a formal situation.

You would use these phrases only in written English. They’re too formal for spoken English, except in very, very formal situations.

5. The Little Things

Of course, not everything in life needs a big thank you.

Imagine you’re at a restaurant and your friend passes you the salt. You wouldn’t say thanks for your time; the situation is completely different and you might get a few odd looks!

So let’s look at what you could say instead.

You could just say thank you or shorten it to thanks.

For example:

  • Can you pass the salt? Thank you!
  • I love the food—thanks for the invite!

In British English, we also use cheers and ta. Both words mean thanks and are more informal.

Ta is more common in the north of England.

Have a look at these examples:

  • Can you pass the salt? Cheers!
  • Can I have a tea? Ta!

Now that we’ve reached the end of our lesson, you should have a good idea about how to thank people in English with different words and expressions in a variety of situations.

I appreciate your time, thanks very much for watching! Ta!


How to Thank People in English Quiz

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Oli RedmanHow to Thank People in English – Video Lesson