I answered "merci du" in this question but was marked incorrect when in face the lesson states an equivalence between the two. Please explain.....
Merci de/pour votre question, Max!
This is a tricky one to explain. You would never say "merci du cadeau" but "merci pour le cadeau".
To simplify things and according to the Académie française :
Use Merci de
1. When it is followed by a verb in the infinitive ( present or past)
Merci de m'avoir invité/e! = Thanks for inviting me!
Merci de venir à 16 heures pile. = Please come at 4 pm on the dot.
2. With abstract nouns
Merci de votre attention! = Thank you for listening!
Merci de votre aide! = Thank you for your help!
Merci de votre obligeance! = Thank you for obliging me!
Use Merci pour with concrete nouns
Merci pour les chocolats!
Merci pour le cadeau!
Merci pour les fleurs!
This is the same if you use the verb remercier (to say thank you)
Hope this helps!
Ok, however, I see the following in the lesson:
Merci pour votre compréhension.Thank you for your understanding.
"Votre compréhension" is an abstact rather than concrete noun. Your advice seems to clearly contradict the lesson I have just pasted in. I have no dog in this fight. Either sounds fine to this non-native speaker and there is certainly no loss in meaning. I would be pleased to hear other opinions. I'll try some prescriptivist googling of MERCI DE & MERCI POUR and see what comes up. French is a moving target!
Reading the lesson further I find "- either de or pour is colloquial with abstract nouns (votre compréhension, patience, gentillesse...), with merci de being a bit more elegant.- merci pour is the one you use with actual things (le cadeau, la carte...)
That sounds copasetic. While you have contradicted the lesson, I am in thrall to your rule: It just sounds better to this non-native ear.
In any even, the lesson rule might be restated as follows:
Use pour after merci where the thing you are giving thanks for is a concrete object. In all other cases, prefer de for elegance and pour as you wish.
God, I love this language!
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