It may be a funny question.

I wonder about the word "you" in the expression "Thank you". Is it a pronoun like "her", "him", "us", "them" or is the "you" part of standalone expression like "Regards, etc".

In other words, is "thank you" a seperate expression functioning on its own, like a single word, e.g "goodbye" Or is it only the short form of a longer sentence like "I would like to thank to you?

If it is the short form of "I would like to thank to you", then may be I can also say "Thank her" or "Thank them" when I want to thank to a lady or a group of people in the absense of her or them, such as when she is or they are away at the time I thank to them?


2 Answers 2


In the expression Thank you, the subject is understood. It may be a pronoun such as I, we, they or a noun such as The people.

Thank is the verb and you is the object pronoun.

It is possible to adjust the wording in numerous ways:

I/we wish to thank you....would like to thank you....want to thank you

It is also possible to thank him/her/them or whoever, as you suggest.

Here you are not thanking the person directly but indirectly, whether via someone else or an audience.

The mayor of a city might say to the media, for example:

The fire service responded magnificently and I would like to thank them on behalf of the residents.

You might say to a friend:

Your father helped my sister when she fell. Will you please thank him for me.


You can treat it as a stand-alone expression.

Goodbye started in the 14th century as "God be with ye" (ye is an old form of you). Through the 15th and 16th centuries you find people writing "God b'wy ye", "God buoye", "God-bwye", before the modern spelling became standardised in modern English.

Similary Thank-you started as "I thank you" and became fixed as "thank-you" in the 14th century. You can now treat these as fixed expressions, and not short for anything. You can't use "Thank-her" as an expression in the same way.

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