The holidays are (almost) here! As the US kicks off Thanksgiving weekend (next week), and we enter the season of giving and thanks, we’re exploring the many ways of giving thanks in Arabic.
Although each country has its own colloquial dialect (عامية) or “‘aammiya”, these 5 ways to say “thank you” can be almost universally understood throughout the MENA region.
1. شكراً (Shukran)
Shukran is used in all Arabic-speaking countries, in both formal and informal settings, and understood widely among all tongues of Arabic language speakers. It comes from the root verb “شكر” “shakara” meaning “to thank”. A common response? You may hear العفو (“al-’awfoo”) or عفوا (“’af-waan”) which literally means “to forgive/pardon”, and is the equivalent to “don’t mention it” or “no problem”.
2. تسلم/تسلمي (Tislam/Tislami)
Heard most commonly throughout the Levant and parts of the Gulf – this phrase comes from the root verb “سلم” or “salama” meaning “to come out safe/healthy”. It can be used if a friend or family member does something nice for you!
Add إيديك/ي or “ideyk/i” to this phrase’s end to quite literally say “may your hands enjoy health” – a way of thanking the hands that give you something!
3. ممنونك/ممنونتك (Mamnoun(t)ak/ek)
Pronounced “mamnountak/ek” from a female speaker, and “mamnounak/ek” from a male speaker, you may hear this throughout the Levant region as a way to say “thank you” or “I’m grateful to you”.
If you’ve got this down, you know some Persian too! This Arabic loanword, “mamnoun” or “ممنون” is commonly used for “thank you” by Persian speakers as well!
4. يعطيك العافية (Ya‘tik al-‘afiya)
Literally translating to “may [God] give you health,” this is a recognition of someone’s hard work and allows you to show your appreciation. You may hear the reply “Allah y-a‘fik” also meaning (May God bless you with good health) in response.
FYI – In Moroccan Darija, “‘afiya” means fire, so please be cautious in Morocco as this phrase will be taken the wrong way!
5. يكثر خيرك (Yekather Khairak/ek)
A shorthand version of the fuller sentence meaning “I wish [that God] increases your welfare”, this phrase can be a way of saying “Thank you so much for helping me” across the Arab world. “Khair” (خير) is the noun meaning “good,” often heard when someone asks “How are you?”.
While this is just a sampler, NaTakallam’s conversation partners can surely tell you more about the subtleties of Arabic.