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How to Say Thank You in Russian Posted by on Nov 24, 2011 in Culture, language, Russian for beginners, The Russian Emotion

This old song is called “I am Grateful to You”. It is interesting how the more formal way of saying “thank you” is combined with the solemn music. 

Today is «День Благодарения» [Thanksgiving Day] in the US. «Вы празднуете?» [Are you celebrating?] Once «индейка съедена» [the turkey is eaten], «гости разъехались» [the guests left], and «посуда вымыта» [dishes cleaned], you can start getting ready for the Black Friday. Or you can skip the mall madness altogether and learn how «благодарить» [to give thanks] in Russian.

«Благодарить» [to give thanks, to thank] is the imperfective verb. Its perfective form is «отблагодарить» or «поблагодарить». Look closely and you will see the words «благо» [good, blessing] and «дарить» [to gift]. Now, if this combination of “to give blessing” sounds familiar, you are probably thinking of the Eucharist (Holy Communion). After all, the word “eucharist” is Greek in origin and «благодарение» [thanksgiving] is it’s direct translation.

There are quite a few Russian expressions of «благодарность» [gratitude] that use this word. For example,

«Я благодарна за оказанную вами помощь» [I am grateful for your help]

«Кандидат на пост Президента был благодарен за поддержку избирателей» [The Presidential candidate was grateful for voters’ support].

«Заранее благодарю за Ваш ответ на мой запрос» [I would like to thank you in advance for your response to my inquiry].

«Я буду вам очень благодарен» [I will be much obliged].

«Разрешите поблагодарить вас за приглашение на церемонию» [Allow me to express my gratitude for the invitation to the ceremony]

«Приношу благодарность спонсорам проекта, без которых успех был бы невозможен» [I would like to express my gratitude to the project sponsors without whom success would not have been possible].

As you can probably tell from the English translation, the word «благодарить» is rather formal. It is used in official letters, ceremonies, news reports, and other «высокопарный» [highfaluting] situations:

«Мэр вынес благодарность рабочим за законченную в рекордные сроки реконструкцию парка» [The mayor commended workers for restoring the park in record time].

«Администрация города объявила официальную благодарность директору школы за многолетнюю добросовестную работу» [The city administration officially commended the school’s principal for the many years of conscientious work]

To soften the often-stuffy «благодарить» [to express gratitude] you can say

«Благодарю от всей души» [thank you from the bottom of my heart; lit. from my soul] or «Благодарю сердечно» [I thank you wholeheartedly].

Another formal way of expressing gratitude is by using the word «признательность» which means “gratefulness”, “acknowledgement”, or “appreciation”:

«Я вам столь признательна за оказанную мне честь» [I am much grateful for the honor bestowed upon me]

«Я вам крайне признателен за оказанную услугу» [I am much obliged to you for the favor]

«Разрешите выразить нашу признательность за организацию сеанса одновременной игры на 60 досках» [Allow to express our gratitude for organizing the simultaneous chess display on 60 boards]

 

The least formal way of saying thank you is probably the one most well known – «спасибо» [thank you]:

«Спасибо большое! Я не ожидала такой поддержки!» [Thank you very much! I didn’t expect such support!]

«Спасибо за угощение. Всё было очень вкусно» [Thank you for the meal. Everything was delicious.]

«Спасибо, дорогой, за то, что не забыл про наш юбилей» [Thank you, darling, for not forgetting our anniversary]

Of course, there are a couple of exceptions to this formal/informal thing:

«Спасибо за внимание» [Thank you for your kind attention] – this is a standard closing sentence for many speeches.

«Тысяча благодарностей!» [A thousand thanks!] is a pretty emotional and rather informal way of saying “thanks”.

«Ты не представляешь, как я тебе благодарен!» [You can’t imagine how grateful I am to you!] – another not so formal way.

And here are a few ways of saying “you’re welcome”:

You can start with «пожалуйста» [welcome], then move to «да что вы!» [don’t mention it] and «да что вы, не стоит меня благодарить» [don’t mention it]. You can also say «и вам спасибо» [thank you] in return and «это я должен/должна вас поблагодарить» [it is I who should thank you].

«Спасибо за то, что дочитали эту статью до конца!» [Thank you for reading this entire article!] Happy Thanksgiving!

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Comments:

  1. Wendy:

    Thank you for all of that! I’m not quite that advanced yet, but everying helps! 🙂

  2. Delia:

    Благодарствую is an old verb and I haven’t heard it for some time now

  3. Richard:

    Yelena,

    Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, so we had our turkey, cranberry and pumpkin pie well over a month ago.

    У меня вопрос: could you use “Спасибо за Внимание” to close a business letter? Or is there a better way? “Спасибо” always sounds too informal to me.

    Happy Thanksgiving Day to the folks south of the border! 🙂

  4. David Roberts:

    Я очен благодарен, Лена, за “clip” Муслимa Магомаевa. Он уже мне знакомый по песням Темная Ночь и Журавли. Как он хорошо пел, не так ли.

    No Thanksgiving for us Brits, толко “дела как обично” !

  5. Delia:

    David: Магомаев был очень популярен, очень знаменит и всеми любим (loved by everybody)! Too bad he died early. I’m surprised you know him! 🙂

  6. Minority:

    Thanks for this post and happy Thanksgiving day, Yelena! As I live in Russia I don’t celebrate this day at all.

    You told that “благодарить” = “благо дарить”, but didn’t mention that “спасибо” = “спаси, Бог!”. So originally it was a word of благословление [blessing].

    Other useful phrases used when you want to thank somebody:
    – Я тебе очень обязан(а) [I owe you so much.]
    – За мной не заржавеет! [means “I will do something good for you in return”]
    – Ты меня просто выручил/спас! [You really helped/saved me!]
    – Ты настоящий друг [You’re a true friend]
    – Ты чудо/потрясающий/замечательный! [You’re wonderful/marvellous/outstanding!]

    So, as you can see, sometimes to say “thank you” it’s enough to make some compliment or admit how important his/her deed to you. 🙂

  7. Minority:

    Richard, you hardly can use “Спасибо за внимание” in the end of your letters… Well may be if your letter contains some sort of presentation… But usually we use this word in the end of some perfomance or speech to thank all of the visitors for listening.

    These phrases are good for letters:
    * “С уважением, Ричард” [With respect] – good for business letters
    * “С наилучшими пожеланиями, Ричард” [Best regards] – good for business letters
    * “Искренне ваш/твой”, “Всегда твой” [Sincerely yours] – for private letters
    * “Целую/обнимаю” [Kisses/Hugs] – for private letters
    * “С любовью” [with love] – for private letters
    * “Всего наилучшего” [Best wishes] – for letters with some congratulations.

  8. wassim:

    Thank yelena was very useful

  9. David Roberts:

    Delia, Привет! В наше Русском Кружке мы часто слушаем русские песни на YouTube. Some of them have the lyrics on screen, and if not we can usually find them on the internet. It is a good way to learn vocabulary and get deeper into grammar. About a year ago I did a couple of guest blogs on Миллион Алих Роз and Журавли – Муслим Магомаев is one of the many who have done Журавли, so that was how I first discovered him. Then Lena sent me a link to his Темная Ночь – the Leonid Utusov version of this is also excellent. We’ve also listened to Ой мороз, мороз, Не морозь меня, and I feel I can almost detect the difference between мороз and -морозь.

    On YouTube we’ve also listened to everything Пелегея и Даря Мороз sang on Две Звезди. All very educational!

    Спасибо за то, что ответили за мой комментарий про Муслимa Магомаевa!

  10. Lois:

    Спасибо! Ингода я не уверена, какие выражения больше формально, и когда их использовать. Также, вы классно объяснил заключительные слова в письмах. Было бы хорошо по больше об этом говорить, какие выражения в письмах!

  11. Delia:

    David: Как вы выбираете (choose/pick) песни? Вам нравятся исполнители (singers) или слова? I’ve been thinking of my favorite songs that are not difficult to understand, I mean the lyrics. Have you heard of Nana Bregvadze? Here’s a link to her Снегопад (Showfall) and she isn’t singing about the weather. it’s about the winter of her life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3inG9U_WIM

  12. David Roberts:

    Спасибо большое, Делия, за link. Это хорошая песня, с многими нам новых слов. Сначало я не узнал Нану Брегвадзе (она грузинка, не так ли?) но я заметил что она также поет ‘Дорогой Длиною’ которую мы слушали около год тому назад. ‘Дорогой Длиною’ стала Big Hit in the west in the 60s, as “Those were the days”, sung by Mary Hopkin. I usually find songs just by random browsing on YouTube, but now I know a lot of the names – so its less random. If I like the song, and we can hear the words clearly, I add it to my list for us to study. Searching in YouTube with Only4Russian gives lots of songs with the words, in Russian, on the screen. sovmusic.ru is also very good for soviet era songs and speeches, with the words available. A couple of weeks ago, as near to the 70th anniversary as we could, we did Stalin’s 1941 speech in Red Square

  13. Richard:

    Большое спасибо, Minority! Это очень полезно!

    In return, I’ve made a few corrections to your English, which is much better than my Russian!

    Оригинал:

    “Richard, you hardly can use “Спасибо за внимание” in the end of your letters… Well may be if your letter contains some sort of presentation… But usually we use this word in the end of some performance or speech to thank all of the visitors for listening.”

    Исправления:

    “Richard, you can’t (or “shouldn’t”) really use “Спасибо за внимание” at (“at” not “in”) the end of your letters… Well maybe (“maybe” is one word) if your letter contains some sort of presentation… But usually we use this word at (“at” not “in”) the end of some performance or speech to thank the audience for listening.”

  14. Minority:

    Richard, спасибо за исправления, I will try to pay more attention to English grammar. 🙂

    What’s wrong with “hardly”? Maybe I don’t understand its meaning well..

  15. David:

    Hardly = only marginally or only with difficulty = едва (я благодарен вам, Minority and Richard, я почти забыл слово “едва”). Eg, when talking on the phone: “I can hardly hear you, someone’s using a vacuum cleaner in the next room.” So it would have been OK to write . Used ironically in the phrase “It’s hardly rocket science”.

  16. David:

    This is what it would have been perfect english to write:

  17. Minority:

    Thank you, David!

    Damn this russian way of thinking. ‘Cause it was “Ричард, едва ли ты можешь использовать «Спасибо за внимание» в конце писем” in Russian. Though it’s not a good way to explain rules. 🙂

  18. David:

    Не за что!

  19. David:

    I’ve still not managed to send what it would have been perfect english to write! <> would have been pefect if it had been <>

  20. Richard:

    Minority,

    The only thing I can add to David’s explanation is that you never use a negative with “hardly”.

    Например:

    I can’t hardly hear you! ✘

    I can hardly hear you! ✔

    Другой вопрос: какова разница между ‘пажолуйста’ и ‘не за что’?

  21. David Roberts:

    Richard, I think ‘не за что’ is equivalent to italian “prego” or spanish “de nada”, english “don’t mention it”…, and has no other meaning.’пожалуйста’ can be used with the same meaning as ‘не за что’ but has other uses – please, by all means (agreeing to do something someone’s asked). So не за что is to пожалуйста as тоже is to также.

    Русские подруги, правите пожалуйста если то что я написал являeтся ерундой!

  22. Minority:

    Richard, thanks for a tip about “hardly”, I didn’t know it.

    Actually “не за что” is used in the same situations as “you are welcome”. And, additionally, when persons says “не за что” he means “never mind, it’s not a big deal”/”it was easy”/”you didn’t make any trouble at all” [the last one is when you have a dialog like that: “Спасибо вам! Извините за беспокойство” – “Ничего страшного, не за что!”]

  23. Richard:

    Я понимаю теперь, спасибо! 🙂

  24. Delia:

    David: a very good explanation of пожалуйста. I would like to add another meaning and usage: Here you are or Here it is. You would say it when passing something to a person who asked for it. Передайте соль/книгу, пожалуйста (please) – Пожалуйста (meaning вот, возьмите ; here it is; here you are)

  25. Aurea Freniere:

    As usual, GREAT post. I’m still a beginner in the language and it’s just so very useful to know this things from start! really, Большое спасибо!

    Another thing (I wish there was a contact email, so that I can send this request directly to you. My apologies if I’m doing something I’m not supposed to): As the beginner I am, I’m still struggling with declensions a bit. I was hoping that you would write a post about this subject. on tips as to how we can memorize them faster and such. It would totally made my day. so far this have been the stone in my shoe! and I’m desperate for tiiiips! thanks again and keep the good work. This blog is AWESOME!

  26. Rob McGee:

    If any Russians are familiar with the US English slang “I’m blown away by (your kindness)”, is there a close Russian equivalent?

    Note that to be blown away, in this context, may be interpreted either as “to be carried away by the winds of a hurricane/tornado” or “to be broken into pieces by the explosion of a bomb”.

    But whether you understand it as a hurricane-metaphor or a bomb-metaphor, the phrase “I’m blown away” expresses very strong gratitude!

  27. Minority:

    Rob, let me think about it…

    “Меня разрывает на части от эмоций” [I’m blown away by emotions]. But you can’t use it as “by your kindness”… Hm.. May be: “В моей душе бушует буря” [there’s a storm in my soul] – it can be both positive or negative. To tell the truth, there’re dozens of phrases you can use to describe this state. =)