When writing in English I am often told that Thank-You is incorrect.

Contradictory to this many dictionaries have it hyphenated, such as:

My question is which is the correct way?

Thank You

  • 2
    Could you provide a link to one of those "many" dictionaries? I haven't seen any of them.
    – oerkelens
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:51
  • 1
    I figured out you were looking at the noun :)
    – oerkelens
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:58
  • 3
    @Trevor - When someone asks for clarification, it's best to provide that additional information by editing the question. That way, people don't have to read through all the comments to fully understand what you're asking about.
    – J.R.
    Jun 9, 2015 at 15:05
  • If we thank somebody should it be Thank-you Sam!, Thank you Sam, or just Thank you?
    – user34916
    May 31, 2016 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


Ah, I presume you mean you looked up thank-you, which is an existing noun but not the same thing at all as the common idiom thank you.

Merriam-Webster tells us:

Full Definition of THANK-YOU

: a polite expression of one's gratitude

Origin of THANK-YOU

from the phrase thank you used in expressing gratitude
First Known Use: 1792

Now, the phrase “thank you” is indeed always written without a hyphen.

But when we transform phrases into nouns, we use (often) hyphens to indicate that those words belong together as a set phrase, and together they become a noun:

After the wedding they sent thank-yous to the guests.

As with many nouns, we can use thank-you attributively ("as an adjective") to modify another noun:

I sent her a thank-you note.

  • 1
    Probably worth injecting the word often into the claim that we use hyphens to indicate the set. It's certainly not a universal thing (not that anything is in English, of course).
    – KRyan
    Jun 9, 2015 at 20:03
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    "Thank you" is an idiomatic phrase. "Thank-you" is a hyphenated noun. If you replace the space with a hyphen, you transform the phrase to a noun. Thus it is impossible to write the phrase "thank you" with a hyphen; it is always written without one. Jun 10, 2015 at 1:45
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    @curiousdannii Merriam-Webster does, at least, say that the phrase is 'thank you' rather than 'thank-you'.
    – daboross
    Jun 10, 2015 at 7:03

Thank you contains a verb(thank) linked to an object(you). This is how we normally thank people.

For ex: "[I/we] thank you for being here."

Like many other phrases, this commonly used phrase was turned into a single hyphenated word, 'thank-you'. It is considered as the noun/adjective form of 'thank you'.

For ex: I sent him a thank-you card. He gave a big thank-you to all of us.

Eventually, the hyphen was removed and the hyphenated word became a single word, 'thankyou'. Some people still retain that hyphen, but some others choose to omit it(for the noun/adjective form).

You can have a look at this article: thank-you

  • 3
    Just because graduating from a hyphenated word to a full-fledged compound word is "inevitable" according to that article, does not mean it is currently an actual word. You will not find "thankyou" in any credible dictionary or used in any written correspondence with a native English speaker.
    – Roger
    Jun 9, 2015 at 22:26
  • Wiktionary mentions the usage of 'thankyou'. Though many people recognize it as an error, there is a certain part of the English-speaking population(not merely native speakers) that accepts the usage. Even if the article suggests that the evolution is 'inevitable', I believe that it's a matter of convenience. Jun 10, 2015 at 1:33
  • @Roger Your last statement is incredibly broad, and false. I've seen "thankyou" frequently in correspondence with native speakers. Jun 10, 2015 at 15:22
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    Wiktionary is not exactly a reputable source, literally anyone could have added that extremely brief entry date less than a year ago. And my statement is broad and true. Maybe you see it in Ontario where you live, still not a word.
    – Roger
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:45

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