GRACIAS PARA is wrong! Saying Thank you Correctly in Spanish ✅

GRACIAS PARA is wrong! Saying Thank you Correctly in Spanish ✅

Gracias para is wrong! It’s one of the most common mistakes Spanish learners make.

Knowing when to use por and when para is tricky in Spanish. Especially if you come from English, since there is only one word for it, “for”.

I’m Spring Spanish teacher Maura, and in this video, you’ll learn tons of chunks on how to use gracias (thank you) grammatically correct AND some more alternatives to saying gracias (thank you) in Spanish, so it never gets boring!

1. The mistake

In case you’re not sure what we’re saying is wrong, here are a couple of examples:

  • Gracias para venir.
  • Gracias para todo.

As you can see, it hurts my brain to say it because it is absolutely wrong. That being said, entiendo totalmente que es un error común y fácil de cometer (I totally understand it is a common mistake and easy to make), which is why I’m doing this video. The right way, though, would change para for por:

  • Gracias por venir. (Thank you for coming.)
  • Gracias por todo. (Thank you for everything.)

Other examples of the right usage could be:

  • Gracias por este regalo tan maravilloso. (Thank you for this wonderful gift.)
  • Gracias por entender. (Thank you for understanding.)
  • Me dio las gracias por ayudarla. (She thanked me for helping her.)
  • Le di las gracias por su amabilidad. (I thanked her for her kindness.)
  • ¡Gracias por tanto! (Thank you for so much!)

Chunk Alert!

¡Gracias por tanto! (Thank you for so much!) Is one of those chunks you might not get to if you’re translating from your original language. You could add something afterwards, of course, like:

  • Gracias por tanto cariño.  (Thank you for so much love.)
  • Gracias por tanta atención. (Thank for so much attention.)

And maybe that would come easier from the translation. But, you can just say gracias por tanto (thank you for so much) by itself, without specifying what.

De esta manera, puedes hacer saber a la otra persona que sientes que ha hecho demasiadas cosas por ti como para enumerarlas. (This way you can let the other person know you feel like they’ve done too many things for you to enumerate.) But that you acknowledge and appreciate them all! I literally say this every time my friends have me over, feed me, and entertain me, or to my family who are always doing nice things for me.

Remember to access the link in the description to get our free Essential Spanish Chunking Kit. It’s our way to tell you guys: ¡gracias por tanto! (thank you for so much!)

2. The difference between gracias por and gracias para

All right, so, in all fairness, there is a time when you can use the combination gracias para correctly. The thing is, NO cuando quieras agradecer a alguien. (NOT when you want to thank someone.) Let me repeat, you can never use para after gracias when thanking someone. Let’s review some examples to understand when this would make sense instead:

  • Gracias, para mí, significa apreciar y reconocer las bondades del otro. (Thank you, to me, means appreciating and acknowledging the goodness in others.)
  • Dar gracias para ser educado es muy importante. (Saying thank you to be polite is very important.)
  • Me dio las gracias para manipularme, pero le creo en lo absoluto. (He thanked me to manipulate me, but I don’t believe him at all.)
  • Le di las gracias para que supiera que reconozco su esfuerzo. (I thanked him to let him know that I recognize his effort.)

As you can see, I’m not thanking anyone in these examples. When “gracias” is followed by “para” the only alternative you have is to add a reason or purpose for someone to thank someone like in: me dio las gracias para manipularme. (He thanked me to manipulate me.) Or, to say what the word means to someone as in: “gracias”, para mí, significa apreciar. (“Thank you”, to me, means appreciating)

Now, “por” is a preposition which will allow you to actually thank someone for something. Por lo tanto, también es la más utilizada. (Therefore, it is also the most commonly used.) It was actually hard for me to find examples with “para”. Meaning, just learn these chunks and trust that almost every time you’ll need a “por” if you’re adding more information after “gracias”. De este modo, seguro que aciertas siempre. (This way, you’ll surely get it right every time!)

Here are some examples with “por” which are much, much easier for me to come up with:

  • Gracias por las risas. (Thank you for the laughs.)
  • Nos dio las gracias por el apoyo que le brindamos. (He thanked us for our support we gave him.)
  • Por favor dale las gracias por avisarme. (Please thank him for letting me know.)
  • Te agradezco por todo lo que has hecho por mi. (I thank you for everything you’ve done for me.)

Before I forget, stick with me till the end to get those alternative ways to say “gracias” in Spanish so you can sound like the natives and not like the students! Now, this last one uses the verb “agradecer” (to be thankful for) instead of the word “gracias” but, as you can see in: Te agradezco por todo (I thank you for everything), it follows the same rules as “gracias” and so is also followed by “por” in these instances.

After “por”, what tends to follow is either a thing like: gracias por las risas. (thank you for the laughs.) Or a verb, as in: gracias por avisarme. (thank you for letting me know.) The same thing would apply to English, so just know that this is the most common scenario in Spanish as well, and it goes with “por”.

If you’d like to understand better the differences between “para” and “por” in more contexts than just this one, make sure to check Mariana’s video on the subject right here.

3. Alternatives to gracias

One of the first things you can do to spice up the same old “gracias” is to add something in front of it. The most common words would be:

  • Muchas o muchísimas gracias (thank you very much): “muchísimas” is just “muchas” but bigger. We love to do that in Spanish. Especialmente los latinoamericanos. (Especially Latin Americans.)
  • Mil gracias (a thousand thank you’s): it might sound dramatic but we say this instead of just “gracias” for everything. Incluso acciones muy simples como entregarte algo. (Even very simple actions like handing you something.)
  • Un millón de gracias (a million thank you’s): again, you can use this any time, and it won’t sound as intense as it does in the translation.

Then, you do have some expressions that do not include the word “gracias”:

  • Un millón (a million): this does come from “un millón de gracias” but, at least in Venezuela, it is very common to just shorten it for “un millón”. Tengo una tía que básicamente sólo dice esto para decir gracias. (I have an aunt that basically only says this to say thank you.)
  • Dios te lo pague (May God pay you): Latin America is pretty catholic, so a lot of people will use this expression to be thankful. Because of it, I’m sure it was used everywhere but, currently, it might be more common in some Spanish-speaking countries than others. También la edad y la religiosidad. Yo nunca digo esto, por ejemplo. (Also, age and religiousness. I never say this, for example.)
  • Te la debo o te debo una (I owe you one): both of these mean the same, and it is pretty common in many different Spanish-speaking countries. The only thing is that the right context for this would be thanking someone for a favor more than anything else. Like:
    • No podría haberlo terminado a tiempo sin ti. ¡Te debo una! (I couldn’t have finished in time without you. I owe you one!)

Actually, Maria Fernanda made a whole video on “gracias” which included this alternative as well, and she’s from Mexico. Para más opciones mexicanas, asegúrate de ver su video. (For more Mexican options, make sure to check her video.)

4. Review

Now, let’s review a bit, shall we?

To thank someone for something with “gracias” you say:

“Gracias por” and then add the thing you’re grateful for. Either a thing or an action, like:

  • Gracias por todo. (Thank you for everything.)
  • Gracias por venir. (Thank you for coming.)

And, you do have some alternatives to change it up. You can add a word, like:

  • Muchas o muchísimas gracias, (Thank you very much.)
  • Mil gracias. (A thousand thank you’s.)
  • Un millón de gracias. (A million thank you’s.)

Or use entirely different constructions, like:

  • Un millón. (a million.)
  • Dios te lo pague. (May God pay you.)
  • Te la debo o te debo una. (I owe you one.)

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