Thank-You Note Etiquette: How to Show Appreciation in Different Cultures

By Billie •  Updated: 02/10/23 •  10 min read

Everybody likes to be valued and appreciated, but different cultures have different customs and expectations when it comes to showing appreciation and writing thank-you notes.

For example, while you may think you are being gracious by accepting dessert upon the first offering, your Japanese host might note your social ineptitude and poor manners.

Don’t let embarrassing behavior define your experience with new cultures; instead, learn the ways and expectations in whichever context you find yourself. Take note of the following are tips and guidelines for writing thank-you notes in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way, and sail through any new situation with top etiquette grades.

Thank-you notes are welcomed in all cultures.

Thank-you note etiquette differences in different cultures

The specific customs and expectations for writing thank-you notes can vary greatly depending on the culture.

For example:

Thank-you notes appreciated in all cultures

Especially for you: means the same thing no matter how you spell it.

Showing appreciation to those who have gone out of their way to help us or make a special gesture is an important part of many cultures. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or colleague, expressing gratitude is a key way to maintain strong relationships and build on goodwill.

While there are many ways to express appreciation, writing a thank-you note is one of the most timeless and meaningful approaches.

Writing and sending a thank-you note is a gesture that is appreciated in many cultures, but the etiquette and expectations can vary greatly. The more personal your thank-you note is, the more meaningful it will be, and even if you don’t do it perfectly, remember that thank-you notes are a great way to show appreciation in any culture.

Considerations before you write a thank-you note

Thank-you notes are a great way to express appreciation for a gift or kindness. But what may be taken for granted in one culture may not be seen in the same light in another. Knowing how to write a thank-you note in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way can help show respect and appreciation to the recipient.

In the United States, thank-you notes are often seen as a polite and formal way to show appreciation. It is common to send a handwritten note after receiving a gift or being hosted for a meal. In some cases, a thank-you note is expected within a certain amount of time after an event has taken place.

In other cultures, though, thank-you notes may not be seen in the same light. Writing a thank-you note may not be seen as a necessary part of social etiquette, or it may be seen as overly formal.

Here are some tips to help you show appreciation in different cultures:

1. Research the culture. Before you send a thank-you note, research the culture you are writing to. Different cultures have different expectations when it comes to showing appreciation. For example, in some cultures, a verbal thank-you may be seen as more appropriate than a written one. Or, in some cultures, a gift may be a more common way to show appreciation than a thank-you note.

2. Follow the cultural norms. Once you have researched the culture, make sure you follow the cultural norms when writing your thank-you note. This may mean including certain phrases or words in your note, or writing the note in the language of the culture.

3. Consider timing. In some cultures, it is important to send a thank-you note as soon as possible after receiving a gift or being hosted for a meal. In others, a thank-you note may not be expected at all. Be sure to research the culture to understand their expectations when it comes to timing.

When it comes to expressing gratitude through thank-you notes, it’s important to consider the cultural norms of the recipient. Here are a few tips to help you write a culturally appropriate and sensitive thank-you note.

To include a gift, or not?

In some cultures, it is customary to include a small gift or token of appreciation with the thank-you note. This could be a small token such as a book, candle, or plant, or a gift card. Consider the recipient’s culture and preferences when deciding what to include.

For example:

Express gratitude in different languages

In some cultures, expressing gratitude in the native language is appreciated. If you’re not familiar with the language, you can still express your appreciation by using a few simple words or phrases.

Chinese: 谢谢 (xiè xiè)

Japanese: ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu)

Indian: धन्यवाद (dhanyavaad)

Australian: Ta (thank you)

These are just a few tips to help you write a culturally appropriate and meaningful thank-you note. Keep in mind that each culture has its own set of norms and expectations, so it’s important to take the time to research and understand the traditions and customs of the specific culture with which you’re interacting.

With a bit of thought and effort, you can show your appreciation in a way that is appropriate and meaningful.

Thank-you notes in Japanese culture

In Japanese culture, it is important to write a thank-you note as soon as possible after receiving a gift or being hosted for a meal.

In the note, include:

Thank-you notes in Indian culture

In Indian culture, it is important to express gratitude with both words and a gesture. A written thank-you note is seen as polite and thoughtful, but it is not typically expected.

When writing your thank-you note, include the usual parts:

Thank-you notes in Australian culture (the West)

In Australian culture, thank-you notes are seen as a polite and thoughtful gesture, and are increasingly valued in the workplace.

To make the most positive impression, it is important to send a thank-you note as soon as possible after receiving a gift or being hosted for a meal.

The note should include

By following the tips above, you can make sure that your thank-you note is culturally sensitive and appropriate. With a little bit of research and effort, you can ensure that your thank-you note is meaningful and appreciated by anyone in any language. The intention behind the action is what matters.

Examples of thank-you notes in different languages

In German, say thank you to a mentor with this thank-you note:

Sehr geehrte [Name],

Vielen Dank für Ihre Großzügigkeit und Unterstützung. Ich bin dankbar, einen so wundervollen Menschen wie Sie in meinem Leben zu haben. Danke, dass du mich unterstützt und mir geholfen hast, meine Ziele zu erreichen. Ihre Hilfe und Freundlichkeit werden mir immer in Erinnerung bleiben.

Mit herzlichen Grüßen [Name]

Translation in English:

Dear [Name],

Thank you so much for your generosity and support. I am grateful to have such a wonderful person like you in my life. Thank you for supporting me and helping me reach my goals. Your kindness and help will always stay with me.

Sincerely, [Name]

Say thank you for the hospitality, in German:

Lieber [Name],

Vielen Dank für die wunderbare Gastfreundschaft, die Sie mir gewährt haben! Ich habe es sehr geschätzt, dass Sie mich in Ihrem Haus willkommen geheißen haben. Es war eine Freude, Zeit mit Ihnen zu verbringen und Ihre Lebensweise kennenzulernen. Ich hoffe, dass wir uns bald wiedersehen.

Herzliche Grüße [Dein Name]

Transation: Dear [Name],

Thank you for the wonderful hospitality that you have extended to me! I really appreciated being welcomed into your home. It was a pleasure to spend time with you and learn about your way of life. I hope to see you again soon.

Warm regards, [Your name]

In Japanese, hospitality thank-you note example:


様 あなたが私に提供してくださった素晴らしいおもてなしに感謝します!あなたの家に私を歓迎してくださったことを本当に感謝しています。あなたと一緒に時間を過ごすこと、あなたの生活様式を学ぶことは本当に楽しかったです。 またすぐに会えることを願っています。

敬具 [あなたの名前]

In Spanish, hospitality note example:

Querido [Nombre],

¡Gracias por la maravillosa hospitalidad que me has extendido! Realmente aprecié ser bienvenido a tu hogar. Fue un placer pasar tiempo contigo y conocer tu forma de vida. Espero verte pronto de nuevo. Un saludo afectuoso,

[Tu nombre]

In Chinese, hospitality note example:


感谢您给予我的美妙款待!我真的很感激您欢迎我到您家中。很荣幸能与您在一起,了解您的生活方式。 希望很快再见到您。

祝好, [您的名字]

Thai thank-you note

Sawasdee [Name],

Khob khun mak kha! Watashi wa anata no yasashisa ni kansha shiteimasu. Watashi wa anata ni watashi no yume o tasukeru tame ni teikō shite kuremashita. Watashi wa anata no yasashisa o kesshite wasuremasen.

Chok dee, [Name]

Translated into English: Hello [Name], Thank you very much! I am grateful for your kindness. You have helped me to achieve my dreams by supporting me. I will never forget your kindness. Good luck, [Name]

Don’t worry too much and just write the thank-you note

Keep in mind these universal considerations when writing a note of thanks, and you will do just fine.

Be respectful

When writing a thank-you note, it’s important to be respectful and considerate. Avoid using slang or jokes, and be sure to use the recipient’s preferred name or title.

Be specific

When writing a thank-you note mention the gift or gesture that you are thankful for, or mention the event or occasion that prompted you to write the note.

Be prompt

It is considered rude by any culture to delay in sending a thank-you note. Be sure to send the thank-you note as soon as possible, preferably within a few days of receiving the gift or gesture.

Sign the note

Be sure to sign the thank-you note with your full name, as this will demonstrate your sincerity and appreciation.

See more: Etiquette: Helpful Hints for Writing Proper Thank-You Notes


I like to climb mountains, read Nietzsche, and explore the West Coast. I have a BA from York University (2003) in Toronto, Canada, and yet on this site I sometimes spell like an American (know your audience). Thank you. Thank you very much.

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