A diverse language because with various dialects, Arabic is spoken in 25 countries around the world. New learners of Arabic tend to struggle when learning the language, especially because they are taught Fushah which is rarely used today. But despite the differences in dialects and cultures, it is fair to say that Arabs unite on one aspect: etiquette.
If you’re heading to an Arab country, you must be well-equipped with your manners. Apart from knowing how to say “hello” in Arabic, you should also learn your “thank you’s”. And yes, there’s more to it than shukran!
Not a faint idea on where to begin? Here are the many ways to say “thank you” in Arabic, as well as how to say “you’re welcome” and “please”.
Ways to say “thank you” in Arabic
Although foreigners might disagree, Arabs would argue that there isn’t much to saying “thank you” in Arabic. Granted that the official term “shukran” undergoes several modifications, it essentially serves the same meaning. In fact, such changes in the word are necessary because it rightfully addresses the person you wish to thank. Once you have grasped the general grammatical rules, we’d say it’s a breeze onwards!
To start off easy, “shukran” is the Fushah way of saying “thank you” in Arabic. Arabs know that it can be overwhelming to use the right words around the right crowd given the differences in dialects. Luckily, the term “shukran” is applicable in every country, and might just be your safest bet!
If you want to take a step further and truly express how grateful you are, then you say “shukran jazeelan”, which simply translates to “thank you very much” in Arabic.
This Arabic phrase literally translates to “I am grateful”. If you’re in the Gulf and want to blend in with the community, then you should use “mashkoor” (masculine) or “mashkoora” (feminine). Of course, you can use whatever term you feel comfortable with, but Arabs in the Gulf typically stick to either mashkoor/mashkoora or shukran.
Another short way to say “thank you” in Arabic is “ashkuruk”, which means “I thank you”. However, if you’re addressing a female, then be sure to change the phrase to “ashkuruki” – “أشكركِ”.
The Levantine way to say “thank you very much” is “shukran ikteer”. Depending on the region, many Arabs would prefer this term over “shukran jazeelan”, but really they both mean the same thing.
Adding subject pronouns to “shukran”
Now it’s time to add the subject pronouns to the word “shukran”. Ideally, Arabs acknowledge the person they’re thanking by considering the person’s gender and number of people being thanked. This might appear as a tough formula, but really we’re just adding another word to “shukran” to complete the phrase.
Below is a general breakdown of the many ways to thank people in Arabic.
- Lak: Shukran Lak – شكرا لك : addressing a man
- Laki: Shukran Laki – شكرا لكِ: addressing a woman
- Lakum: Shukran Lakum – شكرا لكم: addressing a group of people
- Lakuma: Shukran Lakuma – شكرا لكما: addressing two people
In all honesty, it is a fairly easy criteria to follow because we’re simply changing who we are addressing. Not to mention, you can always use “shukran” if you’re still not ready to proceed with the subject pronouns.
Saying “thank you” for specific occasions
Perhaps the rules for saying “thank you” in Arabic might have been overwhelming, but we’re just getting started! In fact, you might now want to learn what you could be thanking someone for.
Well, when it comes to the situation, the original term “shukran” isn’t altered. Instead, you simply add the appropriate Arabic word after to specify what you are thanking the person for.
Here are some common phrases Arabs use to thank someone:
- Thanking someone for the help: Shukran lil musa’adah – شكرا للمساعدة
- Thanking someone for a gift: Shukran lil hadiya – شكرا للهدية
- Saying thank you for the person’s condolences: Shukran li ‘ta’ziyah – شكرا للتعزية
- Thanking someone for the party: Shukran lil ‘azeema – شكرا للعزيمة
- Thanking someone for the clarification: Shukran li ‘tawdeeh – شكرا للتوضيح
- Thank you for the invite: Shukran ‘ala al da’wah – شكرا على الدعوة
Other words to express thanks in Arabic
Although there are several ways to say “thank you” in Arabic, often Arabs use other expressions to thank someone. This typically involves prayers and blessings. In fact, some phrases in Arabic are derived from Islamic phrases, which explain the emphasis on God or blessings.
So, while the following words are equivalent to saying “thank you” in Arabic, they are regarded more genuine and heartfelt.
Instead of saying thank you, Arabs might say “bless your hands” or “tislam idaik” – “تسلم إيدك”. This term is usually used after someone has done something for you, such as a waiter bringing your food or a friend doing you a favor. Of course, don’t forget the subject pronouns. “Idak” is masculine, and “idaik” is feminine.
These phrases are the shortened version of “tislam idak”, because it simply translates to “bless”. Don’t get intimidated by the various spellings, because it depends on the gender you are addressing. “Tislamo” is masculine and “tislami” is feminine.
As mentioned earlier, Arabs will sometimes send prayers your way instead of directly saying “thank you”, because they find it more sincere. When you say “ya’teek al afia”, you pray that God keeps the person in health. You can also use the actual term ‘God’ in the phrase so that it becomes Allah ya’teek al afia – الله يعطيك العافية. But don’t forget, “ya’teek” is masculine, and “ya’teeki” is feminine for both phrases.
The Islamic expression to thank someone may seem a bit long, but you can always remove the “khairan”. Either way, it means may God reward you with good, and for the shortened form, may God reward you. Similarly, if you’re looking for a change, you can say Allah yajzeek al Khair – الله يجزيك الخير which ultimately means the same thing. Both phrases are generally used amongst Arab Muslims, but don’t feel shy to use them!
How to say “no, thank you” in Arabic
It’s really that easy. “La shukran” literally translates to “no thank you”. This is a general phrase in Arabic used to decline a person. In fact, you can simply say “shukran” and move on.
How to say “you’re welcome” in Arabic
Unlike saying “thank you” in Arabic, there isn’t much diversity in the phrase “you’re welcome”. Here are just two ways to say “you’re welcome” in Arabic:
“Afwan” comes from Fushah which means it is applicable in any Arab country. You can also use this phrase to say “pardon”.
“Hala” is the Levantine word for “you’re welcome.” This term translates to “welcome”, and can thus be used for welcoming a guest (hala or ahlan wa sahlan), and saying “you’re welcome”.
Ways to say “please” in Arabic
Using the word “please” really depends on the dialect you’re aiming for in Arabic. Here are some of the common phrases used:
This is the most common phrase used in Arabic as it stems from Fushah. It translates to “if you please” and can also be used as another way to say “pardon”.
“Arjouk’ is generally a product of the Egyptian dialect and works more as a way to plead. There is also a change in the word depending on the gender you are addressing. “Arjouk” is masculine and “arjouki” is feminine. A bonus tip, Egyptians pronounce the letter ‘j:ج’as ‘g;. So to pronounce it the Egyptian way, replace the ‘j’ in the word with the ‘g’.
The term “momkin” is a bit different. This is because it translates to “if it’s possible” which is technically an incomplete phrase. It works if you’re pleading or gesturing to something, and the other person understands what you mean.
That concludes the many ways to say “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “please” in Arabic. No doubt, learning Arabic can be tricky; you have seen how just one word can be expressed in different ways. However, with the aid resources like books and apps, you’ll surely succeed.