If you’re going to South Korea for a vacation or have Korean friends, it’s very important to learn how to say thank you in Korean.
Korean culture is all about politeness and hospitality! So you’ll be considered very rude indeed if you don’t reply with a thank you to your host’s friendly gestures.
But there’s a catch! Unlike English, where we can sum up our gratitude in a simple “Thanks” or “Thank you”, the Korean language has different words for different people and occasions.
Related: How To Say I Love You In Korean
Related: List of Korean Traditions
So there’s a standard way of saying thank you in Korean, a formal way to express gratitude to your older family members and seniors, and an informal thank you to use for close friends.
If you don’t want to make a social faux pas and get how to say thank you in Korean right, you’ve got to read the article below.
How To Say Thank You In Korean
If you want to say thank you to someone who is a peer then you can use the Korean word Gomawoyo written in Hangul as 고마워요. Gomawoyo is the standard way to say thank you in Korean.
The word is derived from the Korean word Gompada (고맙다) which means “to give thanks”.
A lot of people use this word as an expression of thanks as it’s not very formal and strange for everyday use. And at the same time, it’s very polite and doesn’t come across as too casual.
You can use the word Gomawoyo in a sentence as shown below:
- To say “Thank you very much” – Jeongmal Gomawoyo (Hangul – 정말 고마워요)
- To say “Thanks for letting me know” – Allyeojwoseo Gomawoyo (Hangul – 알려줘서 고마워요)
How To Say Thank You In Korean – Formal
There is a strict hierarchy in Korean culture. You wouldn’t use the same expressions for thank you with your grandparents, your colleagues, and your close friends.
If you’re starting out in Korea as an expat or want to impress your significant other’s family, you should learn how to say thank you in Korean the official way.
It shows respect on your part and gives the other person the impression that you’re honoring the set dictates of Korean culture.
To say “thank you” in a formal way in Korean, you should use the phrase gam sa ham ni da (Hangul – 감사합니다 ).
This phrase is derived from the Korean word gamsahada (Hangul – 감사하다), a verb which means “to thank”.
You can use the phrase gam sa han ni da to say thank you to people older than you in Korea.
If you’re dealing with strangers and do not which is the right expression to use, then gam sa ham ni da will work just fine!
Here’s how you can use the phrase in everyday use in Korea:
- To say “thank you for saying so” – geureoke malsseumhae jusini gomapseumnida (Hangul – 그렇게 말씀해 주시니 고맙습니다)
- To say “thank you for the message” – mesiji bonaejusyeoseo gomapseumnida (Hangul – 메시지 보내주셔서 고맙습니다 )
How To Say Thank You In Korean – Casual
The phrase gam sa han ni da is very useful when you want to say thank you to strangers or to people senior to you in age or otherwise.
But what about saying thank you to your close Korean friends or partner? This phrase sounds too formal and stiff for use then.
If you want to say thank you to your closest friends, boyfriend or girlfriend, in Korean you should the phrase Gomawo (Hangul – 고마워).
Just think of it as saying “thank you” vs “thanks” in English.
Here are examples of using Gomawo in everyday conversation with your Korean friends:
- To say “I’m fine, thanks!” – nan gwaenchana, gomawo (Hangul – 난 괜찮아, 고마워)
- To say “Thanks for the gift” – seonmuleul sajwoseo gomawo (Hangul – 선물을 사줘서 고마워)
To wrap things up there are 3 main ways to say “thank you” in Korean.
There’s the informal way used with friends and family, the polite one used with colleagues or other acquaintances, and a formal one to use with elders and strangers.
|Type of “Thank you”||Anglicized Version||Written In Hangul|
|Formal “Thank you” in Korean||Gam sa ham ni da||감사합니다|
|Polite(Standard) “Thank you” in Korean||Gomawoyo||고마워요|
|Casual “Thank you” in Korean||Gomawo||고마워|
Other Thankful Expressions In Korean
Expressing your favor and gratitude to someone isn’t limited to saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. There are several ways you can combine these Korean expressions with other words to form an accurate sentence.
I’ve listed out some of the most common expressions of thanks and gratitude Korean people use in daily communication. This will help you find the right phrase for the situation and won’t leave you grasping for words.
How to say “No thank you” in Korean
There is a right way to decline things in Korea. Just saying a curt ‘No” will definitely offend your Korean hosts or friends.
In fact, this sounds rude in English as well. So if you want to be polite while declining an offer made to you by a Korean person, you should say “No, thank you” in Korean.
The phrase for “No thank you” in Korean is Ah-ni-yo gwoen-chan-seup-ni-da. It is written in Hangul as 아니요 괜찮습니다.
You’ll notice that the honorific 니다 or ni-da appears here as well. This is also present in the formal Korean thank you gam sa ham ni da.
It’s a way to add respect to your thank you and welcomes and should be used while addressing strangers or elderly people.
How to say “That’s truly kind of you” in Korean
This is a phrase that sometimes is used after you say thanks to recognise the other person’s helpful or kind behavirou.
To say “that’s truly kind of you” in Korean you should say Jung-mal chin-jul-ha-si-ne-yo. It is written in Hangul as 정말 친절하시네요.
How to say “Thank you sincerely in Korean”
If you want to be polite while still remaining informal, you can add a “sincerely” to the end of your thank you.
It’s also a good idea to learn this phrase as it helps you sign off emails to your Korean colleagues and acquaintances.
To say “thank you sincerely” in Korean you’ll need to use the phrase Jung-mal go-ma-wo-yo. It is written in Hangul as 정말 고마워요.
As you know gomawoyo is the polite way to say thanks which is neither very stiff nor very casual.
So by adding Jung-mal or “truly” or “sincerely” to the phrase, you’ll be putting a cherry on top of a very polite cake.
How to say “Thank you very much in Korean”
If you want to say thank you very much in Korean you should use the phrase Dae-dan-hi gahm-sa-hab-ni-da written in Hangul as 대단히 감사합니다.
The phrase is used when you want to express your gratitude in strong, affectionate terms. In fact, the words dae-dan mean “very much” or “greatly”.
So this is the right phrase to use to put some more emotion into your thank yous. However, reserve this phrase for special occasions as it can get awkward if you’re using it in day to day life.
How to say “Thank you for the food” in Korean
Say you’re invited to dinner at your Korean colleague’s home. Or your Korean partner has invited you to meet their parents.
It’s a great idea to learn how to say thank you in Korean for the food they’re serving you.
The correct phrase for this occasion is jal meogeotseumnida (Hangul – 잘 먹었습니다).
How To Respond To Thank You In Korean
Just like it’s important to say know how to say thank you in Korean, I find it equally important to respond to someone’s thank you, the right way.
So here are several different ways you can show that you’re welcome.
Just like saying thanks, the way you use “You’re welcome” depends on the person’s status in Korean culture and their age.
I’ve listed out some of the ways to respond to “thank you” in Korean, below:
Chun-man-ae-yo (Hangul – 천만에요)
This phrase is a very formal and stiff way of saying “you’re welcome in Korean”. Actually, it’s not used that often anymore. You’ll find people of the older generation saying it sometimes. But younger people don’t use 천만에요 anymore.
Byul-mal-sseum-eul-yo (Hangul – 별말씀을요)
This is a formal way of “you’re welcome”. It literally means “don’t mention it”. You can use it if someone says the formal thank you “gan sa ham ni da” to you.
A-ni-ae-yo (Hangul – 아니에요)
Literally translated, the phrase a-ni-ae-you means “not at all”. It is used very commonly in Korea and can be used while speaking to elders, strangers, and friends. So it’s sort of a polite reply to thank you that isn’t so very stiff.
Korean culture places a lot of emphasis on etiquette. They also have a strict hierarchy that demands older people and those in higher positions (like your boss, teacher, or senior at school) to receive their due respect.
So you’ve got to be careful to use the right expressions for the right people.
I’ve always believed that manners maketh the man (or the woman!), so saying thank you and welcome is a must.
And l can assure you that Korean people will be delighted that you’ve taken the time to learn the proper words and expressions out of respect for their culture.