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Planning a trip to the Greek paradise? Here’s how to express gratitude in Greek.
Knowing how to say ‘thank you’ in Greek is probably the most you can achieve with the least amount of effort. A single word is all you need to receive dozens of smiles. Greek people are known for their hospitality and good mood, but your attempt to speak Greek will multiply that by 100. A heartfelt efcharistó (‘thanks’) can truly work wonders. But what are all the other ways to express gratitude in Greek depending on the context?
Even in English, there is more than one way to say ‘thank you’. It’s only natural to expect the same from Greek. It all depends on the context, who you are talking to, what are thanking them for and how well you know that person. It all seems so complicated now, but it won’t be once you read on.
In this quick Greek lesson, we’ll show you only the practical ways to say thank you in Greek. The thanks you’ll actually need and use in real life. Additionally, we’ll also go over how to say ‘please’ or ‘you’re welcome’ in Greek. As a result, you’ll know exactly what to say and when to say it.
(Ευχαριστώ) Efcharistó is the most popular way to say ‘thank you’ in Greek. More similar to ‘thanks’ than ‘thank you’, efcharistó is an informal way of expressing gratitude. Generally, it is most commonly used as a response to a small act of kindness or a basic courtesy from a friend, family member or colleague.
Additionally, if you feel like it’s appropriate, you can also use it to thank the friendly taverna keeper at the end of the night.
A funny but very good mnemonic for remembering how to say efcharistó is to think of it as ‘ef-harry’s-toe’.
It’s true that ευχαριστώ (efcharistó – ‘thanks’) is more than enough to ‘survive’ in Greece. It’s not a Greek tragedy if your Greek vocabulary is not on point. Most Greek people speak English and won’t expect you to be fluent in Greek.
However, if you want to say more than just ‘thanks’, you can say σ’ ευχαριστώ (s’ efcharistó) which is ‘thank you’ in Greek. Although informal, s’ efcharistó is more similar to ‘thank you’ and can be used safely when giving thanks to friends or colleagues.
If you are especially thankful to them, you can also say ευχαριστώ πολύ (efcharistó poli) which means ‘thanks a lot’. Or even ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ (efcharistó para poli) meaning ‘thank you very much’.
When it comes to formality, everything you have to do is to switch to the plural form. If you are talking to someone older, someone you don’t know or maybe even a group of people, you can say σας ευχαριστώ (sas efcharistó). Since English doesn’t have any formal pronouns, there’s no easy way to literally translate this, but it would mean something along the lines of “thank you to all of you”.
Similarly, ευχαριστώ πολύ (efcharistó poli) becomes σας ευχαριστώ πολύ (sas efcharistó poli) and ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ (efcharistó para poli) becomes σας ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ (sas efcharistó para poli).
Easy enough, isn’t it? Once you know all the informal, singular ‘thanks’, all you have to do to make them formal is to add the polite plural σας (sas) in front of them.
Now you know the best ways to say thank you in Greek. To put them into context, here are a few examples of when they may come in handy. Plus some additional Greek thanks that you could hear while in Greece.
Are you familiar with the German ‘Bitte’ or the Italian ‘prego’ that seem to mean everything from ‘please’ to ‘go ahead’ and ‘you’re welcome’?
Well, the Greek παρακαλώ (parakaló) works the same. If you want to say ‘please’ in Greek, you say παρακαλώ (parakaló). If you want to say ‘you’re welcome’, παρακαλώ (parakaló) works just fine again. If only everything would be so easy when learning Greek!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and forget about the formal variation. To address someone older or a group of people, you should use the formal σας παρακαλούμε (sas parakaloúme). Did you recognize the σας (sas) particle? If yes, then congratulations! That means you’re on the right track.
When should you say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ or ‘you’re welcome’ in Greek? Well, the key is to remember not to exaggerate. Excessive use of politeness can be seen as either weird or mocking especially in Athens, where the basic interaction and attitude resembles that of metropolises like New York or London. Sometimes a smile is just enough.
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