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When writing emails, I often ended it with "thank you in advance". Even more, I used to have it in my signature for a certain time (mea culpa).
However, recently I've been told that it is not appropriate or even rude.

I checked on the Web and found some links (1), (2) that confirm this point.

There's also a discussion at ELU on this matter.

Instead of "thank you in advance", they usually suggest something like "I appreciate any help that you can provide" or "I will be grateful if you can..."

OTOH, in my native language there are two distinct types of appreciation: appreciation "after" is merely like English "thank you", but appreciation "before" can be translated something like "let the divine providence be with you" or "...give you power (to do what I'm asking)", or, simply speaking (not very accurate, though), "bless you (to do what I'm asking)".

I'm trying to combine both things, i.e. avoid using "thank you in advance" and preserve the meaning of above. Is it possible?

Thank you in advance! :-)

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  • 2
    Just curious, what is your native language that has both senses of thank you?
    – Peter
    Feb 15, 2016 at 11:45

4 Answers 4

16

It might be better to just say, "Thank you." and omit "in advance." I think this implies that you are grateful that they took their time to consider your request. It would probably be a good idea to thank them again afterward, this time for whatever work they did to help you.

Unfortunately, some people (many of whom are very outspoken) will be offended by almost anything.

Usually, the best practice is to use the conventions that are generally accepted among whichever group of people you are communicating with.

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  • 9
    +1 for "some people will be offended by almost anything" :) Yes, good old "thank you" is never wrong, but I'm trying to convey the meaning I've been mentioned. Other than that, it will be simply a repetition of a discussion at ELU, which makes a little sense. Jan 29, 2013 at 5:38
  • 2
    @bytebuster: In the case of "Thank you in advance", it's not the words which are potentially offensive. It's the presumption that your request will in fact be satisfied. So long as you want to convey that sense, no amount of changing the phrasing will remove the potential for giving offence. Jan 31, 2013 at 17:28
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    This is the exact difference between "thank you in advance" and "bless you to do..." Nobody would even think that the latter can be expanded into "...and curse on you if you don't." Jan 31, 2013 at 17:35
13

I would have no problem with "thanks in advance" at the end of an email sent to me. I would interpret that remark to mean that the person is thankful for whatever assistance I'm able to provide.

That said, I can understand why some might find this phrasing off-putting. If you think about it long enough, you can find all sorts of presumptuous or impolite overtones:

I already know you're going to fulfill my request, so I'll just thank you now.

I'm too lazy to write a follow-on note of thanks, so I'll just roll my request and my thanks into one message.

I wouldn't think you have anything better to do with your time than help me, so thanks for helping me.

However, I would be shocked to learn that anyone who wrote "Thanks in advance" at the end of an email really meant any of those things. That would be more a case of me reading too much into a commonly-used expression, I think, rather than a sender trying to be anything but polite.

That said, to answer your request for an alternative phrasing that won't be misconstrued, I think you can always go with something simple and plain:

Thank you,

That's succint but polite; it can mean as little as "Thank you for reading this," or as much as "Thanks for whatever support you are able to provide."

Many websites suggest closing a formal business letter with more specific words of thanks, followed by a more formal closing. In other words, you might see something like this:

Thank you very much for your time and assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

or:

Thank you for considering these suggestions.

Faithfully yours,

This depends very much on context, of course, but I find such formats a bit overly formal for some – though not necessarily all – email correspondence, which is why a simple "Thank you," can work nicely.

I guess I haven't added much more than ctype.h has suggested, although I think it's worth pointing out that a simply "Thank you," by itself is flexible enough to cover both of the meanings you are trying to preserve. If "Thank you," seems to common and trite, though, Wikipedia offers this alternative in one of its samples:

With thanks,

0

There's a huge US/UK usage split. Here's the American corpus in NGrams...

enter image description here

...and here's the British corpus...

enter image description here

I must admit that before seeing that usage chart, I simply assumed that the reason I see the in advance version so often these days is because many people who rarely write actual letters often sign off emails like this. The reality, or course, is that because of the Internet, I now see much more of what Americans write.

It might therefore be wise to take account of which side of the pond your addressee lives - you'll always be understood, but why deliberately use a version that you (now! :) know might seem at least slightly "unusual"?

It's also perhaps worth mentioning that sometimes, the addressee might be irritated by being thanked for some favour that he might feasibly decide not to grant. And if you made him pause slightly over your anticipation / advance choice, that might be enough to make him think for longer, and deny your request instead of simply "rubber-stamping" it.

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  • The Google Books corpus is not very relevant here since it contains mostly books and not emails or other personal communications where "thanks in advance" (or similar) is used.
    – Laurel
    Mar 9, 2023 at 14:28
  • Oh, come on! How many times would those search strings not be for the context we're talking about here? And are you gonna claim that some non-correspondence context is both sufficiently common as to drown out the information I'm trying to present, and leads to the usage split for some completely different reason? It might be different if I'd searched for Thanks... or Thank you..., but with (capitalised) Thanking you... I think I'm on pretty solid ground. Mar 9, 2023 at 14:37
-1

I usually say something like,

"Impending 'you're welcome'... we'll cross that bridge when we come to it,"

or,

"Wow, even before you've received my bill? Outstanding! Could I trouble you for a Yelp review now, then?"

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  • If you asked me for a review in that way you would get one. A very negative one.
    – Chenmunka
    Mar 9, 2023 at 13:45

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