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Thank you

Italians don’t observe the all-American holiday of thanksgiving (la festa del ringraziamento). There are Italian words, but no cultural equivalents for the Pilgrim fathers (padri pellegrini) and the American Indians (Amerindi) who came together to celebrate the harvest (il raccolto) in the new world (il Nuovo Mondo). Italians do eat turkey (tacchino) and pumpkin (zucca) but not in the traditional way (modo tradizionale) that Americans prepare them on Thanksgiving.

Yet Italian has a wonderful array of ways to say thank you: grazie (thanks), grazie infinite (endless thanks), grazie mille (thanks a thousand, literally, but it translates as thanks a million), molte grazie (thank you very much), and grazie di cuore (thanks from the heart).  

Italian appreciation (like everything else) becomes more effusive on paper. If you are writing a lettera di ringraziamento (a thank-you letter) for a gift, a meal or a kindness, you might use phrases such as: 

*Non so come ringraziarLa – I don’t know how to thank you (formal) 

*Grazie per la squisita ospitalità — thank you for your exquisite hospitality 

*Grazie infinite per la Sua (formal) / la tua (informal) gentilezza — thank you for your kindness 

*La ringrazio per tutto quello che ha fatto per me — thank you for all that you have done for me (formal) 

*Il più affettuoso grazie per…la cena, il regalo, ecc — most affectionate thanks for…the dinner, the gift, etc. 

*Le porgo i miei più sentiti ringraziamenti — I profer to you my most heartfelt thanks  

*Non trovo parole per dirLe quanto ci ha fatto piacere — I cannot find the words to tell you how much pleasure it gave me 

So what do you say when someone thanks you? Here are some options: 

*Prego — please, not at all, comparable to "you're welcome"

*Di niente — It’s nothing 

*Non c’è di che — Not at all 

*Ma immaginati!  Ma figurati! — That’s all right (literally, imagine or fancy that) –

*Non dirlo neanche — Don’t even mention it 

*Non dire sciocchezze — Don’t be silly (to friends) 

*È il minimo che potessi fare — It is the least I can do 

*È stato un piacere — It was a pleasure 

And then there's my husband's favorite: L'onore e tutto mio! – The honor is all mine.

Words and Expressions 

Ingraziarsi — to curry favor 

Grazie a Dio — thank God 

Grazie, a buon rendere! — Thank you, I owe you one! 

Essere grato di –- to appreciate, to be grateful for

LaPassioneDianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language and  MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. Click here to preorder her upcoming book, LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World.