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How to say thank you in Korean

How to say thank you in Korean

As you’ve been learning throughout our lessons, the Korean language has several politeness levels and therefore there are several ways of saying certain phrases. This applies to the way we thank people.



The most common and formal way to thank someone in Korean is to use the phrase 감사합니다. It can be used any time when you wish to show respect towards the person you’re thanking. For example, towards strangers, towards teachers, in a store, at a restaurant, during a job interview etc.

감사 means “gratitude” and 합니다 means “to do,” so therefore you are literally giving gratitude to the person you are talking to.

감사합니다Thank you
합니다To do

감사합니다 can be applied in the same way we say “thank you” in English. However, if you really wish to emphasise your gratitude, giving a quick, short bow will do the trick.

You can also add the word 대단히 to the start of the phrase which gives a literal meaning of “great thanks” and shows the highest gratitude towards someone. 대단히 감사합니다 isn’t something you would hear regularly, but it’s great to learn if you want to come across super polite. It is saved for special occasions where the speaker wishes to give the highest thanks to someone who has done a great deal!

대단히 감사합니다Great thanks


Another set phrase that means “thank you” is 고맙습니다. Although it is used less often, in theory it is interchangeable with 감사합니다 as it has the same meaning, only with a little less formality. It is generally meant as a more friendly way of thanking someone, whilst still showing politeness and great gratitude.

고맙습니다Thank you


So, what if you want to thank a friend? Of course we can still say 감사합니다 to show how grateful we are for something. However, we also have the option to use the shortened phrase 고마워, which can translate roughly as the English way of saying “thanks.”

As this is the informal way of giving thanks, it should only be used towards close friends, close family members and people younger or of the same age.

고마워요Thanks (Polite)
고마워Thanks (Casual)


Learning all of those expressions at once can be enough to give anyone a headache and it can be confusing to know when to use the phrase at what time. Here are some examples of how we use the phrases in everyday situations:

• If we drop something in the street and a stranger picks it up and returns it to us we say 감사합니다.
• When getting out of a taxi we say 감사합니다.
• When paying for an item in a store we say 감사합니다 to the shop assistant.
• When an elderly relative buys us a gift we say 고맙습니다.
• When a close family member buys us a gift we say 고마워요.
• When texting our friends we say 고마워.
• When our friend opens a door for us we say 고마워.

If you’re worried about which expression to use, stick with 감사합니다. It’s not only the most common way of showing thankfulness, but there is no risk of offending someone!

August 24, 2016

2 responses on "How to say thank you in Korean"

  1. These little lessons are really helpful 🙂

  2. 감사합니다 선생님 for these lessons 😀

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