Monday, June 24, 2013

How Can I Thank You? Let Me Count the Ways

Merci, mamnoon, moteshakeram. The Persian language is incredibly rich and poetic. And given our culture of taarof it makes sense that there would also be a myriad of ways to say a simple thank you. But is there a certain one you use in specific situations? Which one do you use when? Well, at the request of a loyal My Persian Corner reader, I'm going to (try) to answer those questions in this post. 

After making a list of all the different thank yous, I analyzed the circumstances under which each one is used, and it seems to come down to a matter of formality. Let's look at these. 

Merci is a French loan word and the most common and universal form of thank you. Mamnoon would probably be the next most common and slightly more formal. Moteshakeram is formal, so it wouldn't really be used among friends. Kheyli, very, is often accompanied with mamnoon and moteshakeram, so it's very common to hear or say kheyli mamnoon or kheyli moteshakeram. You cannot, however, say kheyli merci. 

Then there is the combination of these three. For example, when someone asks, Hale shoma chetore?, How are you?, you can respond khubam, merci kheyli mamnoon, I'm fine, thank you. 

Sepasgozaram is a less commonly used thank you, though many prefer this one because it is pure Persian- no Arabic roots like mamnoon and moteshakeram

Then we have the compound verb tashakor mikonam, I thank you. This is another less common, formal thank you with Arabic roots. You may even recognize the similarity with the Turkish teşekkür ederim. 

Another very common thank you is daste shoma dard nakone, literally may your hand not hurt. The most common time to use this expression is with food. When someone cooks and you want to thank them for the meal, you say daste shoma dard nakone! It can be used formally or among close friends (although among close friends, you would use the informal you and say dastet dard nakone.) It's also appropriate to use this expression if someone gives you a gift or does something for you. This phrase expresses more gratitude and appreciation than a simple merci or mamnoon because you are recognizing a person's efforts. One reply to this is sare shoma dard nakone, may your head not hurt. You could also say khahesh mikonam, you're welcome. 

In keeping with the theme of the hands, there is also ghorbune daste shome (or ghorbune dastetun with the informal you), literally, I'll sacrifice myself for your hand. This expression is an example of one of our lovely taarofs. When someone comes to your house bearing flowers or a box of pastries, you can say ghorbune dastetun! Essentially, anytime anyone gives you something, you can use this. 

Similar to this is ghorbane shoma, literally, I'll sacrifice myself for you. Because this is another form of taarof, it's a common formal phrase to use when someone compliments you. Instead of saying thank you (because that would be accepting the compliment and therefore rude) you say that you are that person's sacrifice, exemplifying your humility. Even if someone asks how are you? you may hear ghorbane shoma, khubam, I'll sacrifice myself for you, I'm fine. Sounds incredibly silly and completely melodramatic in English, but it's perfectly normal, acceptable and common in Persian. 

Sharmande [kardin] is a very formal thank you that expresses so much gratitude and appreciation that you don't know what to do with yourself. Use this expression if someone does a HUGE favor for you and you don't know how to say just how thankful you are.

So there they are. All the thank yous and their degrees of formality. Questions? Leave me a comment. I love getting mail!



  1. I love all your posts Pontia azizam ^_^ <3 , you are so cute!

    1. Oh wow! You commented on the absolute perfect post: merci, mamnoon, moteshakeram, sepasgozaram, dastet dard nakone! From the bottom of my heart thank you for all of your support and kind words. Sharmande kardi, honestly! :)

  2. Does the suffix to sharmande vary by gender I.e kardi/kardin? Great effort on your part, without doubt.

    1. Hi, thank you! No, it doesn't vary by gender. It's a singular/plural formal/informal difference. Kardi is the singular, familiar you and kardin is the plural and/or formal you. Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

  3. salaam khanom!
    Greeting from Delhi.I absolutely adore your blog...not only is it extremely informative but your style is also so vivacious!! I have a question, I did a Persian course here and my ostad was an Indian...when an Iranian gentleman came to test our conversational ability,he said- besiyar kosh bakhtid ke aghah e mohtaram(ostad e man) ra paideh kardid ...I said..ostadm ra paideh na kardim...استادم نعمتِ خدا است......will this be considered taroof in the Iranian context or does it sound sarcastic?
    dast e shoma dard na kond
    mokhles vijay deep

    1. Hi Vijay, thank you so much for your kind words, and so sorry about the delay in responding! You answered perfectly! It would be considered a little taarof, but not at all sarcastic or insincere. It was a great response. How is your Persian coming along these days? Sounds like you are quite advanced. Thanks for reading my blog and movafagh bashi!

    2. Salaam
      Bandeh Mamnoonam.In hindi we say ' Der aye doroost aye'
      ('Aye' being our Indo-Iranian equivalent of 'Ayad')

      Its going good,thanks! As a learner one finds Persian grammar incredibly regular and uncomplicated, and then its lyrical quality keeps me hooked.

      I am tempted to leave you with a couplet by Amir Khusro.
      کششی که عشق دارد نگذارددت بدینسان
      بجنازه گر نیاید بمزار خواهی آمد

      Vijay Deep

  4. Hi, first of all thank you for this site! It is perfect!
    My question is about the answer: sare shoma dard nakonad.
    I have the impression that this is a rather informal answer and even sort of with a little humor. Am I right?

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog :)
      I actually asked about this because I can totally see how it seems like an answer with a bit of humor. But I was told that it's actually a pretty formal and polite response.

  5. Ay, che khob! Kheili mamnoon! Dastetoon dard nakone!

  6. Hey thank you very much, I really like your blog!
    I'm interested in the pure Persian language (the arabic words NOT included), could you tell me more?

    Sepaz Gozaram :)!

  7. Salam Pontia, khaili mamnoon!
    I am turkish and I adore farsi. Let me tell you that also in turkish we would say "may your hands never see any trouble" in the same context, "ellerin dert görmesin", or "health to your hands", ellerine sağlık, especially after a meal. The same logic for somebody who comes to your place, for saying thanks for coming, but this time with feet. ayaklarına sağlık. Or if somebody said something good like the good word at the good point we would say, "health to your mouth", ağzına sağlık.
    We also say something like ghorbane, the same meaning, sana kurban olurum, but it's not a daily expression, it's often used by moms to children, like an expression of love. If somebody use it in the persian daily way it would be funny!The last thing: we also say "Ciğerim", jigare man, it's amazing that we have also this expression in commun.
    best regards!

    1. Salaam Ivaylo! Wow, I knew that there were some similarities between Turkish and Persian, but I didn't know there was this much. It's so interesting that they are almost the same or the same logic is applied. Thanks for sharing this! I always love learning about the similarities across languages :)


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