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I was reading , and saw this sentence, 'Homo sapiens conquered the world thanks to above all to its unique language.'

For sure, I understand what 'thanks' means here, but I wonder as what part of speech 'Thanks' is written in the sentence. And also, I feel like there should have been a comma before 'thanks'. if is used as interjection. I just wanted to know how a native speaker would perceive it. Thank you in advance for your reply.

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  • What exactly were you reading you must provide the source of any quote you use Link to the source if possible.
    – James K
    Jul 20, 2023 at 7:21
  • This is probably taken from Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Harari, though you may have read it quoted somewhere else. goodreads.com/quotes/…
    – James K
    Jul 20, 2023 at 7:23
  • There's an error in your sentence. It should be "thanks above all to". The problem I think you are having here is that "thanks to [something]" is an idiom. It means "because of". It's not the same as the word "thanks" on its own. It's probably best not to try to separate the functions of words in an idiom as they are usually figurative, and often make no literal sense.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 20, 2023 at 10:52
  • Sorry that I forgot to add the source of the quote. It is from Sapiens.
    – O.O
    Mar 4 at 20:02
  • And also, to reply to Billy Kerr, You are right. I typed wrong accidentally. As you said, it should be 'thanks above all to.'
    – O.O
    Mar 4 at 20:03

2 Answers 2

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It looks like a noun because it has a plural-like -S on the end. And there is a noun thanks in English, as seen in the example below:

  1. Give our thanks to Brenda, when you see her.

However, in the Original Poster's example, thanks is not a noun. It's a preposition. It is one of those prepositions that usually takes another preposition phrase as its complement. The preposition thanks takes a to-complement. Some other examples of similar preposition pairings are:

  • due to
  • owing to
  • because of
  • instead of
  • away from

In old-fashioned grammar, thanks to, and because of and so forth were described as 'complex prepositions'. Modern grammars, however recognise that these are two independent words. And we can see from the Original Poster's example that this must be correct, because we can very often put other words between them:

  • thanks, above all, to its unique language
  • owing directly to the new law

Because dictionaries still use nineteenth century grammar analyses, you will still find these described as complex prepositions in dictionaries.

Lastly, notice that many prepositions are converted or 'borrowed' from other parts of speech. Owing, for example comes from the present participle of the verb owe. Due comes from the adjective due. And away and instead derive from noun phrases.

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It's a noun, in the plural.

Native speakers don't really perceive parts of speech (one doesn't have conscious access to the parts of the brain that understand language).

This makes "thanks ..." a noun phrase. You could imagine that this noun phrase is the complement in some structure such as "with thanks to..." or "There are thanks to...". But the use as a noun phrase is idiomatic. I agree that a comma here would help.

There is also a syntax error, it should be "thanks above all to..." (delete the first "to")

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  • Thank u for detailed explanation
    – O.O
    Jul 20, 2023 at 8:15

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