13

A: Can you give me a pen?
B: Yes, take it.
A: Thanks much OR Thanks a lot

Is there any difference between these two phrases? Which one is preferred to use?

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  • 2
    On an unrelated note, this dialogue does sounds quite peculiar. "Can you give me a pen?", "Yes, take it." sounds very aggressive to me- it's as if person B is being mugged at gunpoint. "Can/May I borrow a pen?", "Go ahead/Here you go/Yes, you can have this one", sounds much more natural (to me, at least). Jul 2 '14 at 9:44
16

Thanks a lot is the ordinary use in conversation, or bare thanks! Many thanks is more frequent in writing, particularly in formal writing. Thanks much is unusual.

Here's a Google NGram. Keep in mind that the underlying corpus here is printed works, so the more formal phrase is significantly overrepresented.

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  • 1
    I've never heard thanks much, though I am familiar with ta muchly.
    – TRiG
    Jul 1 '14 at 14:18
  • @TRiG: Ditto. Though I think if I did ever hear "Thanks much" I might be inclined to interpret it as a sarcastic observation along the lines of this ELU question (i.e. - "I hope you're satisfied now, even though you haven't had the decency to express your gratitude!"). Jul 1 '14 at 15:21
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    @J.R.: I think the number of people who might find "Thanks much" natural is so small as not to be worth bothering with for learners. Jul 1 '14 at 16:04
  • 1
    @Fumble - I just scanned my work inbox for "thanks much" and found several instances. One was from a physicist who is about 70 years old. Another was from a woman half his age who holds a PhD in environmental engineering from a university in Utah. Another was from a program manager in Alabama who is in his 50s. Another was from an engineer originally from California. Another just got her masters degree in astronautical engineering. These are all native speakers, all bright people, who come from various locations in the U.S. As I said, it's used as a shortened form of "thank you very much."
    – J.R.
    Jul 1 '14 at 22:42
  • 2
    Agreed with @FumbleFingers, when learning a language it's important to realise what's a regional colloquialism, to keep it in the back of your mind as a reference in case somebody says it to you, but if you want standard English, don't say it yourself. I can't recall anybody saying this in Australia.
    – Ming
    Jul 2 '14 at 0:06
3

I have never heard thanks much used anywhere.

Thanks muchly or, more often, ta muchly are used occasionally but they are both highly informal. Also, I would doubt if they are used outside British English.

Thanks a lot is far more widely used.

2
  • ta muchly? Is that British?
    – djechlin
    Jul 1 '14 at 13:35
  • 2
    @djechlin: It's a facetious "mock dialectal" form which I suspect is more common in UK SouthEast than anywhere else, but I'm pretty sure was never actually a "standard" usage within any actual dialect. Jul 1 '14 at 15:25
3

In my experience (U.S. English; Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida) "Thanks much" is a quick informal expression similar to "Thanks!" On the other hand, "Thanks a lot" would be taken as sarcasm unless context and the tone of voice made it very clear that it was sincere. Better to avoid "Thanks a lot" unless you intend to be sarcastic.

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  • OK - a late question: I just wonder, is this sarcasm limited to some geography or is it a general thing? As a non-native speaker, it sounds hard to infer sarcasm from it intuitively. Jan 24 '17 at 13:19
  • 1
    If you'll read the comments on mistermarko's answer, you'll see that while mistermarko thought the word "mostly" applied, others thought "often" or "sometimes" was the better word. In either case, the tone of voice and context should make it clear. A safer expression might be "Thank you so much!" I think it is far less likely to be mistaken for sarcasm.
    – TecBrat
    Jan 24 '17 at 14:16
0

“Thanks much” is wrong/never used/strange , however you can say “Thanks so much” or “Thanks a lot” or even “Yeah huh”

-1

'Thanks a lot' is now mostly used ironically, so it means something like 'That was no help at all, and I want you to know it!'. If you really want to emphasize your thanks say 'Many thanks'.

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    I think you mean sarcastic, but in any case, it depends on the tone rather than the words.
    – jimsug
    Jul 1 '14 at 14:48
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    -1 for now mostly used ironically, which probably says more about the kind of social interactions you're more familiar with than usage at large. Jul 1 '14 at 15:28
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    @Fumble - to be fair, I think it is worth mentioning that "thanks a lot!" is indeed often used in a sarcastic manner. "Mostly" may be overstating it, but the fact that it is indeed sometimes used that way is probably a valuable mention in this community. Would you reverse your upvote if "mostly" was changed to "sometimes"?
    – J.R.
    Jul 1 '14 at 15:54
  • @J.R.: I'm all for fairness. Yes, I would certainly not have downvoted if it weren't for that (somewhat ridiculous) "mostly". Although I would just say that I'd be prepared to bet any money the percentage of times "Thanks a bunch!" is used sarcastically is vastly higher than the percentage of times this applies to "Thanks a lot!". I'd also suggest that when a question isn't specifically about sarcastic usages, it's usually not worth mentioning that aspect (since practically anything can be said sarcastically). Jul 1 '14 at 16:00
  • 1
    Saying it's "mostly" used that way may be inaccurate, but the sarcastic, even angry usage of "Oh, well thanks a lot!" was the first scenario that came to mind for me. Sure, you can probably catch sarcasm from tone/context, but I think it's very important to highlight those edge cases where a non-native speaker might inadvertently misunderstand or convey the wrong meaning.
    – mc01
    Jul 1 '14 at 16:58
-8

'Thanks much' is not English whereas 'thanks a lot' is perfectly acceptable.

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  • Not sure why this is downvoted. Jul 1 '14 at 13:13
  • 1
    @MarkPattison I didn't downvote; but Thanks much has been recorded at least since 1883. Jul 1 '14 at 13:24
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    Fair enough, but it would certainly get you a funny look if you used it today (native, in southern England). Jul 1 '14 at 13:54
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    This answer deserves to be summarily downvoted. Saying that it would get you a strange look in southern England is fine; saying that it is "not English" is way off. Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook says that there are many "common and acceptable" ways to express thanks, including thanks a million, thanks a lot, many thanks, and thanks much. We need to be careful about saying something is "not English" when it may in fact be rather common in some parts of the world. He attended a White House dinner.. “Thanks much for what you are doing for your country,” the place card read.
    – J.R.
    Jul 1 '14 at 15:41
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    I think "thanks much" sounds ridiculous, but then again that's probably the difference between American and British English... Jul 2 '14 at 9:39

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