Learning how to say ‘thank you’ in Korean is one of the most important things to learn when studying the language. When people first start to learn Korean, they are often surprised that there are more ways to say ‘thank you’ than there are in English. The key is learning when to use which! Not to worry, if you follow the Korean etiquette rules, you are sure not to offend anybody.
Today, we will learn how to say ‘thank you’ in Korean properly.
Once you understand the subtleties in the various situations, listen for ‘thank you’s in your day-to-day Korean conversations. It’ll all start to come together and will become second nature to you.
Ready to get started? Let’s get to it!
Formal ‘Thank You’ in Korean
Most of the time, you will only need to use one of these two expressions:
1. 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida)
This expression is a formal version of the Korean verb 감사하다 (gamsahada) which means “to thank.”
This is the most common word used for saying ‘thank you’ in Korean. It is quite formal and polite, so can be used with strangers and people older than you.
You can use this word when saying ‘thank you’ in a restaurant, convenience store, or taxi. It is usually said quite quickly, so the pronunciation might sometimes sound to you like ‘gamsamnida’. But they are actually saying ‘gamsahamnida.’
시간 내주셔서 대단히 감사합니다. (sigan naejusyeoseo daedanhi gamsahamnida)
Thank you very much for your time.
도와 주셔서 감사합니다. (dowa jusyeoseo gamsahamnida)
Thank you for helping me.
2. 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida)
This word can be used in the same situations as 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida). There is a slight difference in nuance but it is so small that you don’t need to worry about it. Try to mix it up so you get used to both expressions of gratitude!
This expression comes from the Korean descriptive verb 고맙다 (gomapda) meaning “to be thankful or grateful.”
그렇게 말씀해 주시니 고맙습니다. (geureoke malsseumhae jusini gomapseumnida)
Thank you for saying so.
Standard ‘Thank You’ in Korean
1. 고마워요 (gomawoyo)
Although 99% of the time you will be speaking in the polite ‘-요’ form of Korean rather than the formal, stuffy ‘-입니다’ form of Korean, you should generally still use the words 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida) or 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida). The only time that you should break this rule is when you are talking to people who you are close to.
If you are close to somebody, but they are older than you, then you can say 고마워요 (gomawoyo) to express your thanks to them. This word, like 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida), is from 고맙다 (gomapda) and is just conjugated differently!
We know what you may be wondering! It is also possible to say 감사해요 (gamsahaeyo) at this level of politeness, but very few people say this.
정말 고마워요. (jeongmal gomawoyo)
Thank you so much.
알려줘서 고마워요. (allyeojwoseo gomawoyo)
Thank you for letting me know.
Informal ‘Thank You’ in Korean
1. 고마워 (gomawo)
When talking to somebody you are close to who is the same age or younger than you, then you can say 고마워 (gomawo). These might be people who are close friends, or siblings.
Again, this form is preferred over 감사해 (gamsahae).
난 괜찮아, 고마워. (nan gwaenchana, gomawo)
I’m ok, thanks!
선물을 사줘서 고마워. (seonmuleul sajwoseo gomawo)
Thank you for buying me a present.
‘Thank You’ in Korean – The Low Down
If all of this seems a bit confusing then follow these simple rules when deciding how to say ‘thank you’ in Korean:
|고마워요||Older people who you are close to|
|고마워||Younger people who you are close to|
When in doubt, remember what Mom always says—it is better to be polite than impolite! Therefore, if you only learn one way to say ‘thank you’, then learn 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida).
Now it’s your turn. Get out there and give these expressions a try and put a smile on the faces of those you run into. Happy thanking!
Let us know in the comments below how you made use of the word ‘thank you’ in Korean conversations!