“Thank you” is one of the phrases that everyone is taught as a child when learning their native language, so it makes sense that it would be an important phrase to know when learning a new language like Korean.
Being polite and showing gratitude is a universal way of showing respect and is a perfect way to show courtesy when interacting with people of different cultures.
No matter the situation, “thank you” is one of the words you will use a lot in Korean and, just like in English, there are different ways to express gratitude and show your good manners.
So, how do you say “thank you” in Korean? It’s “감사합니다 gamsahamnida”.
However, Korean has more ways of saying “thank you” than you’d expect due to the different speech levels in the Korean language that dictate how formal you need to be depending on who you are speaking to.
As well as simply saying “thank you” there are other polite gestures that can be done alongside your “thank you” which we will take you through.
In this guide, we will break down the different ways to say “thank you” at different levels of formality as well as go through other ways of expressing gratitude and how to respond so you can master your manners in Korean and express your gratitude like a native.
But first, take a look below at the overview of the gratitude-expressing phrases that we will be learning in this guide.
Korean Thank You at a Glance
- “Thank you” (formal) – 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida)
- “Thank you” (formal, but slightly less so) – 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida)
- “Thank you” (polite) – 고마워요 (gomawoyo)
- “Thank you” (informal) – 고마워 (gomawo)
- “Thank you very much” (formal) – 대단히 감사합니다 (daedanhi gamsahamnida)
- “Thank you very much” (polite) – 정말 고맙습니다 (jeongmal gomapseumnida)
- “Thank you very much” (informal) – 정말고마워! (jeongmal gomawo!)
- “You’re welcome” (formal) – 천만에요 (cheonmaneyo)
- “Not at all” / “Don’t mention it” (informal) – “아니야, 괜찮아.” (aniyo, gwaenchana)
- “No, thank you” (polite) – 아니에요, 괜찮아요 (anieyo, gwaenchanayo)
- “I will eat well (thanks to you)” – 잘 먹겠습니다 (jal meokgetseumnida)
- “Thank you for this food” – 잘 먹었습니다 (jal meogeotseumnida)
- “Thanks” (slang) – 감사 (gamsa)
- “Ty” (text shorthand) – ㄱ ㅅ (g s)
How to Say Thank You in Korean
If you’re interested in learning Korean, understanding Hangul is the optimal way to get the correct pronunciation.
With both written-out Romanized English and authentic characters of Hangul provided here, we can give you an insightful starting point for your journey into this beautiful language!
감사합니다 (Gamsahamnida) – “Thank You” in Korean
As mentioned already, “ 감사합니다 gamsahamnida” means “thank you” in Korean and this is the standard way of saying “thank you” that is the safest one to say in most situations as a beginner.
The literal translation of “ 감사합니다 gamsahamnida” can be worked out when we break up the word into its distinct parts.
“Gamsa” means “thank” or “gratitude” and “hada” means “to do”. Therefore the verb “감사하다 gamsahada” simply means “to thank” or “to do gratitude”.
Then added at the end of the verb is the formal “nida” to indicate the highly formal speech level of the phrase.
You would use this phrase to express gratitude or show appreciation to people who are older than you, more senior in social status (e.g. a boss), or people you do not know.
However, you would definitely not use “ 감사합니다 gamsahamnida” when speaking to people you are close with.
Example sentence: “시간 내 주셔서 감사합니다. Sigan nae jusyeoseo gamsahamnida” = “Thank you for your time.”
* Note: You will often see “ 감사합니다” written in romanized English letters as “gamsahamnida” but it could also be written as “kamsahamnida” since Korean Hangul characters can sound like two different English letters.
In this case, the first consonant, ㄱ, can be pronounced as a g or a k since neither sound is said in a harsh way.
Similarly, the ending of the word can change when written using the English alphabet and “gamsahamnida” can be romanized as “gamsahabmnida”.
The “ㅂ” in the end part of the phrase “합니다” is normally romanized as a “b” or “p”, but here the characters flow together and the “b” or “p” sound ends up not really being pronounced and so it sounds more like “m”.
That is why, if you are going to continue your Korean learning journey you should learn how to read Hangul in order to get the correct pronunciation every time!
고맙습니다 (Gomapseumnida) – “Thank You” (a Different Variation)
Although “ 감사합니다 gamsahamnida” is the most common way to say “thank you” in Korean, “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” is just as polite and is used interchangeably by Koreans.
The main difference is that “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” derives from the verb “고맙다 gomapda” meaning “to be grateful”.
“고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” is still a polite phrase, as indicated by the ending “nida”, but it is more acceptable to use when talking to friends and family and people who are of the same social standing as you, such as co-workers.
Since “to be grateful” and “to do gratitude” are synonymous it doesn’t really matter too much which phrase you decide to use.
It is good to be aware of both “ 감사합니다 gamsahamnida” and “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” since they are said often. It mostly just comes down to personal preference which phrase you want to use and when.
Example sentences: “도와 주셔서 고맙습니다. Dowa jusyeoseo gomapseumnida” = “Thank you for your help.”
“양해 해 주셔서 고맙습니다. Yanghae hae jusyeoseo gomapseumnida.” = “Thank you for your understanding.”
고마워요 (Gomawoyo) – “Thank You” in Korean (Another Variation)
The less formal, standard, version of “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” is the phrase “고마워요 gomawoyo”.
However, this version is still a polite way to say “thank you” so is sometimes too formal to be used with close family or friends but is not formal enough when speaking to strangers or people more senior than you.
Basically, “고마워요 gomawoyo” is used in situations when you are talking to people who have the same social standing as you but who you are not that close with and therefore still need to be polite to.
Therefore, “고마워요 gomawoyo” is used most often when saying “thank you” to coworkers.
It makes sense when you think about it, since coworkers are socially on the same level as you at a company and you will be familiar with them, but they aren’t your best friends.
Since most people are not close with their coworkers outside of a work setting, you use the standard, neutral speech level when conversing with them.
This creates a certain level of distance that shows respect without talking down to them or talking to them as if they were your boss.
Therefore, if you wanted to say “thank you” at work, or when being especially formal with your family, you would use “고마워요 gomawoyo”
Example sentence: “프로젝트를 도와 주셔서 고마워요. Peulojekteuleul dowa jusyeoseo gomawoyo” = “Thank you for helping with the project.”
고마워 (Gomawo) – “Thanks” in Korean
Following on from the last phrase we learnt and getting more casual, the phrase “고마워 gomawo” is the equivalent of saying “thanks”.
Like “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” and “고마워요 gomawoyo”, “고마워 gomawo” is also derived from the verb “고맙다 gomapda” but is the more informal conjugation.
As you can probably guess you would use this phrase when expressing your gratitude to someone you are close to, like a family member or a friend.
You can also use “고마워 gomawo” when addressing anyone younger than you if you know them. However, it would still be considered disrespectful to use such an informal speech level with someone you don’t know, even if they are younger.
Obviously, even with family and friends, you may want to use the more polite “고마워요 gomawoyo” at times, but mostly if you just want to say “thanks” you would use “고마워 gomawo”.
Example sentences: “네, 커피 가져와 주셔서 고마워! Ne, keopi gajyeowa jusyeoseo gomawo!” = “Thanks for bringing me a coffee!”
“청소를 도와 주셔서 고마워. Cheongsoleul dowa jusyeoseo gomawo.” = “Thanks for helping me clean.”
Saying Thank You in Korean Using Body Language
When greeting people and saying other polite phrases it is customary in Korea to bow. The same is true when saying “thank you”.
When bowing, make sure you bend your body from your hips and keep your back perfectly straight, leaving your arms and hands by your side or resting them on the front of your thighs.
Much like when deciding what conjugation of a phrase to use, deciding when to bow depends on the social standing of the person you are addressing, and how respectful you need to be.
How far you bow down also depends on how formal you are intending to be, the more formal the speech level you are using, the lower the bow.
For example, saying “thank you” to a friend would only need to be accompanied by a slight bow of the head.
However, when saying “thank you” to someone much higher in social standing, like a Prime Minister, you would accompany your most formal speech level with an almost ninety-degree bow to show the utmost respect.
대단히 감사합니다 (Daedanhi Gamsahamnida) – “Thank You So Much” in Korean
Sometimes you might want to express extra gratitude when you are very thankful for something and so learning how to say “thank you so much” in Korean is important.
In these situations, we can add onto our formal “thank you” phrases “감사합니다 gamsahamnida” and “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” to express our thanks in a deeper way to and to increase the formality of the expression.
“대단히 감사합니다 daedanhi gamsahamnida” means “thank you so much” in Korean and is used when someone has done you a massive favour and you want to humble yourself in front of them.
“대단히 daedanhi” means “very” and is used exclusively with “감사합니다 gamsahamnida” to create the extra formal phrase.
However due to how formal and humbling this phrase is, to say “대단히 감사합니다 daedanhi gamsahamnida” is not very common.
Usually, to say the equivalent of “thank you so much” in Korean you would add “정말 jeongmal” meaning “really” onto “고맙습니다 gomapseumnida” and create “정말 고맙습니다 jeongmal gomapseumnida”.
“정말 고맙습니다 jeongmal gomapseumnida” means “I’m really grateful” and is the formal version of “thank you so much” that you will hear more regularly when in Korea and it is used much more for expressing extra gratitude than “대단히 감사합니다 daedanhi gamsahamnida”.
정말고마워 (Jeongmal Gomawo) – “Thanks Very Much” in Korean
In the same way as we did above, you can add onto “고마워 gomawo”, the informal phrase “thanks”, to indicate you are very thankful to someone you are close with.
By adding “정말 jeongmal” which means “really”, you can create “정말고마워 jeongmal gomawo” meaning “thanks so much”.
You can also add other variations of “really” such as “진짜 jinjja” meaning “really” as well and “너무 neomu” meaning “too much”).
This phrase is used when talking to family or friends and people of the same social status as you.
Example Sentences: “정말고마워! Jeongmal gomawo!” = “Thanks so much!”
“저녁을 요리 해주셔서 진짜고마워! Jeonyeokeul yoli haejusyeoseo jinjja gomawo!” = “Thanks so much for cooking dinner!”
아니에요 (Anieyo) – “You’re Welcome” in Korean
Obviously, when speaking Korean, you won’t be saying “thank you” all the time and will need to know how to respond when you receive thanks from others.
The most common way to say “you’re welcome” in Korean is “아니에요 anieyo”
“아니에요 anieyo” actually translates as “no” or “not at all” but is used in response to “thank you” to mean “don’t mention it”.
Korean culture is centred around respect and being humble, so expecting praise or thanks is not common, which makes it understandable why “아니에요 anieyo” is the most used response to “thank you”.
Obviously, there are formal and informal versions of this phrase, the formal ends with the typical “nida” conjugation making “아닙니다 animnida” and the informal version is “아니야 aniyo”.
Another polite way to say “you’re welcome” is to say “it’s okay” in Korean which is “괜찮아요 gwaenchanayo”.
“괜찮아요 gwaenchanayo” is a good phrase to know as it is common to “it’s okay” in response to many things so this phrase will get lots of uses once you know it.
The informal version of the phrase is “괜찮아 gwaenchana” and you can combine this with the informal 아니야 aniyo” to create “아니야, 괜찮아 aniyo, gwaenchana” which means “no, it’s okay, it was nothing.”
Two other ways of saying “you’re welcome” that are not said in conversation but you may come across in writing are “천만에요 cheonmaneyo” and “별말씀을요 byeolmalsseumeulyo”.
“천만에요 cheonmaneyo” is the direct translation of “you are welcome” that you will find in the dictionary and the second is a formal way of saying “do not mention it”. You only need to be aware that these exist, don’t worry about using them in conversation.
괜찮아요 (Gwaenchanayo) – “No, thank you” Refusing Politely in Korean
Since saying “you’re welcome” in Korean is more like saying “not at all” or “it’s okay” depending on the version, saying “no thank you” is exactly the same!
And much like with “you’re welcome” you can combine both “아니에요 anieyo” and “괜찮아요 gwaenchanayo” to create “no, it’s okay”
Be careful though, using simple “아니에요 anieyo” isn’t very polite as it can come across as a harsh refusal.
Therefore it is often best to stick with the polite “괜찮아요 gwaenchanayo” and say a simple “it’s okay” when wanting to express refusal in Korean.
잘 먹었습니다 (Jal meogeotseumnida) “Thank You For the Food” in Korean
If you find yourself around a dining table or about to eat food in Korea, which is likely to happen, you will need to know how to say “thank you” in these specific environments.
Before you eat you could say a formal expression of gratitude to whoever has cooked by telling them “잘 먹겠습니다 jal meokgetseumnida” which translates as “I will enjoy this food (thanks to you)”.
After you have finished your food you would say “잘 먹었습니다 jal meogeotseumnida” which means “I really enjoyed the meal (thanks)” or “I ate well.”
These are both formal phrases and if you are intending to be consistent with the formalities you should remember to wait for the oldest person (or most senior in status) to start eating first before you begin your meal.
These formal phrases and practices are good to know and are a great way to express politeness and respect if you are a guest in somebody’s home.
However, these rules are not strictly followed by many Koreans and neither are the formal phrases as it is all a bit formal for daily dining.
땡큐 (Ttaengkyu) – Text Shorthand for “Thank You” in Korean
It is good to know the formal and informal ways of saying “thank you” in Korean but it is important to also know the slang terms that people use when texting with their friends.
An easy one to remember is “땡큐 ttaengkyu” as it is actually just the Korean pronunciation of the English word “thank you” written in Korean.
Another useful shorthand version of “thank you” is “감사 gamsa” which is the shortened form of “감사합니다 gamsahamnida” (the very first way we learnt to say thank you in this guide).
When texting, much like English people using “ty”, “감사 gamsa” gets shortened even more by using only the first letters of each word.
So, if you ever receive a text that says “ㄱ ㅅ”, it simply means “ty” and is a much quicker way for Koreans to express thanks instead of typing out “감사합니다 gamsahamnida”.
How to Say Thank You in Korean – Video Guide
Thank You in Korean – Final Thoughts
Now you know all the different ways to say “thank you” in Korean as well as when to use them and how to respond. These phrases will be invaluable when interacting in another language and expressing your gratitude to others.
A simple “thank you” can go a long way to build bridges between cultures and make someone else’s day.
Although it may not be as simple as in other languages, once you have mastered “thank you” in Korean, you will be able to end an interaction in a positive way and show respect to the person you are speaking to, no matter who they are!
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