merci bien / merci beaucoup

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Gianne, Jul 4, 2006.

  1. Gianne Member

    Are the terms "merci bien" and "merci beaucoup" interchangeable? Where would it be appropriate to use one and not the other. Would it be ok to always say 'merci bien!' instead of just 'merci!"?
  2. Gardefeu Senior Member

    French (France)
    Yes. No difference whatsoever.
  3. oliviafrance Senior Member

    I would say that "merci bien" is more informal than "merci beaucoup"...
  4. hibouette Senior Member

    France and French
    "merci bien" : bien is there to qualify the way you're giving your "thank you"

    "merci beaucoup" : beaucoup qualify the number( a lot) of "thank you" you give!
  5. Gianne Member

    Merci bien à tout le monde de clarifier! I had thought merci bien was slightly less formal

    merci bien = thanks a lot
    merci beaucoup = thank you very much/so much

    As long as they're both interchangeable and mean the same as 'merci'!, then that's great.
  6. hibouette Senior Member

    France and French
    Well, it's actually the contrary !

    And yes, they both means "Merci"! So that GREAT !!!
  7. Ludito Senior Member

    French, Belgium
    I wouldn't say "merci bien" all the time. It is far to be a rare expression but it's less used (I think) than "merci beaucoup". Just say "Merci" with a long "i"
  8. Maen Member

    La Chaux-de-Fonds
    French - Switzerland
    "merci bien" is less formal. Anyway, merci beaucoup isen't very formal too. Normaly you juste use merci in formal letters.

    unformaly you can also use mille merci
  9. Ludito Senior Member

    French, Belgium
    I'm afraid I don't really agree. "Mille merci" is very formal, to my taste. In a letter, I would not just write "merci". i'd use another form such as "(d'avance) Je vous remercie ...":eek:
  10. Gianne Member

    and in conversation...? Should you just say 'merci' instead of 'merci bien' as Ludito suggested?
  11. Maen Member

    La Chaux-de-Fonds
    French - Switzerland
    yeah, but you wouldn't use "je vous remercie beaucoup....:cross:"
    and mille merci isn't formal anymore. I use it comonly.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2011
  12. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    merci bien is more informal and can be used sarcastically (much more often than merci beaucoup).

    Example of merci bien used in a sarcastic way :
    Tout recommencer depuis le début ? Merci bien ! J'ai autre chose à faire.
    (here, merci beaucoup wouldn't really fit).

    But that shouldn't stop you from using it : context and tone always clear up any potential ambiguity.
  13. Cuckoo

    Cuckoo Member

    India, Speak:English, Hindi and some Indian languages
    Well, "Merci beaucoup" is the more apt way of using in general. I have been using it regularly everywhere... in france, in Belgium, switzerland and Italy. I never had any problem.
  14. tilletille New Member

    English English
    [...] as far as merci bien and merci beacoup go, merci bien is used a lot more in Paris than in other parts of France, I used it all the time when I lived in Paris as I picked it up there but when I was in Lyon I was told it was a really Parisian thing to say!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2015
  15. TheFrenchGuy New Member

    French Canadian
    I disagree with many of the interpretations above on how "merci bien" differs from "merci beaucoup".

    merci bien = thank you kindly (literally "thank you well")
    merci beaucoup = thank you very much (literally "thank you a lot")

    You would use "merci bien" as often and in the exact same manner as you would use "thank you kindly" e.g. not very often. I personally use in an informal context. It sounds slightly awkward so I use it when I want to use a different expression just to vary/spice things up. As the previous posts denote, there is a very subtle difference in interpretation between both expressions. My recommendation would be that is you are not fluent or have not heard this expression before, just don't use it. You'll probably use it wrong. Keep it simple and use "merci" or "merci beaucoup".
  16. chaleuretgivre New Member

    English - USA
    I could be far off-base, but I think of "merci bien" as "thank you kindly" with the same amount of kitsch.
  17. Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Special Agent Dale Cooper Senior Member

    French (France) and German
    :D I quite agree with you ! But you'd still hear "Merci bien" in French more often than "Thank you kindly" in English, I guess.
  18. GMF1991 Senior Member

    Cork, Ireland
    English (UK, Suffolk)
    I would disagree that this is a Parisian thing, I am currently living near the French-Spanish border and I have heard "merci bien" used frequently here...

  19. Icetrance Senior Member

    US English
    J'ai toujours pensé que "merci bien" se rapprochait plus de "thanks indeed", ou bien "I DO thank you".

    bien = ça mettrait l'accent sur la sincérité de son remerciement (pas exactement la même chose que "beaucoup", mais c'est pareil plus ou moins)
  20. Quintis

    Quintis Senior Member

    Well, I didn't know that the interpretation of the two could vary so greatly, I'm quite surprised.

    Here is my personal interpretation:

    I've always thought Merci bien to be more of a dismissive sentence, an automatic/conventional one.
    You might ask someone for directions and thank him/her with a Merci bien and go on your way.

    While Merci beaucoup would be used in a much more sincere way, to emphasize that you are truly grateful because the person has made you a big favor (or so you would want him/her to think...) :p

    Anyway I do agree Merci beaucoup is more used than Merci bien nowadays because Merci bien is closer to a simple Merci.
  21. Icetrance Senior Member

    US English
    I don't know for sure, but they seem very similar in meaning (merci beaucoup vs. merci bien). But, imho, there is a "petite différence".

    merci beaucoup = le fort degré du remerciement est souligné

    merci bien = un vrai merci (oui, en effet, merci)

    Ce dernier ne me semble plus sincère qu'au niveau sémantique. L'est-ce vraiment dans la vie de tous les jours? Non...loin de faudrait avoir le contexte pour juger de la sincérité du "merci" en question.

    Mon "merci beaucoup" a tendance à mentir un petit peu plus que mon "merci bien". :D
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  22. Remguy New Member

    Wow, I'm not sure we cleared anything up here, other than to say there is considerable range in what subtle differences francophones imply with each idiomatic expression of "merci". So here's "my two cents" (my humble contribution):

    I hear "merci bien" and "merci beaucoup" used as more or less sincere and/or formal the same way English speakers can use "thank you", "thanks", "thanks a lot" and "thank you kindly" (more rare) interchangeably and with more or less sincerity depending on the context.

    I would give a slight nod (preference) to "merci bien" being more sincere and less formal, but that's coming from an American who's lived in Montreal for 20 yrs and decidedly NOT a native French speaker! Take it with a grain of salt! (meaning: reserve judgement because the source is possibly unreliable.)

    There, that really clears things up! ...NOT!*

    * Joke from American comic Mike Myers' character "Wayne" in first a skit (a short piece or vignette) on a television show (Saturday Night Live) and later a movie (Wayne's World), that parody the Heavy Metal lifestyle.)
  23. Icetrance Senior Member

    US English
    I sort of agree with you.

    For me, "merci bien" = I DO thank you (less formal, perhaps a tad more sincere)

    Merci bien = Il s'agit bien d'un remerciement, croyez-moi bien.

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