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Some argue that because “thanks in advance” is written before any help has been offered, it adds an expectation of help and thus can be considered presumptuous.

Is this reasonable? Would it be appropriate to use this phrase in business correspondence? If not, is it possible to demonstrate gratitude without coming across as presumptuous?

Thanks in advance.

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What exactly is your motive in asking? If you already recognise that "some" think it could be considered rude, do you want to take a chance on your business correspondent being one of those people, just because some here on ELU don't agree? –  FumbleFingers Nov 22 '11 at 17:44
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Should be -1 for not ending the question with "Thanks in advance!" –  JeffSahol Nov 22 '11 at 17:50
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@JeffSahol OP thought "Thanks in advance" could be considered RUDE, which I assume was why s/he didn't take the risk to thank you in advance. Thus, +1 in my humble opinion. –  Terry Li Nov 23 '11 at 3:30
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duplicate of meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/98149 –  rds Nov 23 '11 at 11:25
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I used to work with a secretary who would end almost all of her correspondence with "thank you in advance for your courtesy and cooperation in this mater", it's a little pretentious and condescending if you ask me. I use it when ever I want to be condescending. –  jim Nov 23 '11 at 21:24
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9 Answers

up vote 59 down vote accepted

To remove any chance of seeming presumptuous, you might say:

Thanks in advance for any help you are able to provide.

This acknowledges that their ability to help may be limited (or nonexistent), but it is courteous nonetheless. It is perfectly suitable for business contexts.

(Note that according to the specific situation, you could swap out help with words like assistance, information, thoughts, etc.)

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Of course, you should also extend proper thanks after help has been provided. –  Jay Elston Nov 22 '11 at 21:43
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even better would be Thanks in advance for any help you are kind enough to provide. because this statement does not (in even the slightest of tones) say that the person might not be capable of providing help. –  Ritwik G Nov 23 '11 at 18:48
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what about ".. for any help you might provide" instead of "... you are able to provide"? Doens't it make the sentence even less demanding? –  Paola Apr 20 '12 at 17:54
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@paola: No, it's actually ruder, since it covers the situation where the recipient could help but chooses not to. (It also should be may, but that's a minor point.) –  TimLymington Aug 12 '12 at 15:48
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@RitwikG That actually sounds worse to me: instead of implying that the person might not be capable of providing help, it imples that they might not be a kind person. –  Peter Olson Jul 5 '13 at 20:34
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I prefer:

I would be grateful (or very grateful or perhaps even most grateful) for any help you are able to provide.

"Thanks in advance" may be acceptable in an internet forum, but to me it seems too informal for business correspondence, and does run a risk of being interpreted as presumptuous.

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Or even eternally grateful! –  Adam Robinson Nov 23 '11 at 15:07
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I only ever use it when I fully expect that the request will be acted upon, e.g. a refund for a returned item, and I consider it good manners in cases where you are not going to send a followup after the other party has completed their work.

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+1: Maybe sometimes it's rude, but sometimes it's actually polite. –  Jefromi Nov 23 '11 at 17:27
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Depends what the request is. There's a difference between, say, a request for information (thanks in advance), or a request to carry out some horrible task (thanks in advance).

This would be horribly presumptous: Hi Jane, sorry I won't be around to do this in person, but could you let John know his contract isn't being renewed? Thanks in advance.

This is ok: Hi, I couldn't find anything on your website about accessibility. Is your building wheelchair accessible? Thanks in advance.

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Thanks in advance is perfectly acceptable. For a more formal/polite connotation, you can also write Thank you in advance.

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Do you say "You are welcome in advance"? This is silly. –  Aillyn Nov 22 '11 at 18:07
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Disagree, I think it is horribly rude.... –  Greg Nov 22 '11 at 18:23
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Ok, there's nothing wrong with having your opinion on the subject. You don't have to use it if you don't like it. But when you come across someone who is using this expression, remember that they have no intention whatsoever of insulting anyone. –  Irene Nov 22 '11 at 18:55
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@Irene, it often comes across as sleazy when used by someone as a way to guilt you into performing a task or errand. –  zzzzBov Nov 22 '11 at 22:05
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@Irene: They may have no intention of insulting the reader, but they often succeed anyway. The complete lack of explanation in your answer makes it sound like it simply doesn't bother you, so you don't see any problem with it. The problem is this: By saying "thanks in advance" you imply that the reader has no choice but to help you. If this is actually true, then fine, but otherwise, it is obviously rude. Why does it imply this? Because gratitude is a form of social payment given in return for help. If the payment is given in advance, then the helper has been placed in debt. Not nice! –  Matt Nov 25 '11 at 11:29
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It is appropriate. In fact it is very widely used and expected in business correspondence when a favor is requested, not only in English but in many other languages.

Consider: when a request for a favor is made face to face, and the other person agrees, it is considered polite to thank them immediately for their promise, and to thank them again when the promise is kept.

In the case of a request made by letter, the asker does not have the opportunity to thank the other person for their promise. So the asker assumes goodwill on the part of the other person, and offers thanks even though s/he does not actually receive the promise.

A few people consider this presumptuous, but it is really a form of courtesy and most people understand that.

The asker always thanks the other person again later for keeping the promise.

Another way to express your thanks for the promise is something along the lines of: "Thank you for anything you can do to help."

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Therein lies the problem: if you thanked them in advance, does that mean you are not going to thank them when they actually do help you? –  Orion Nov 22 '11 at 18:06
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It means you assume their goodwill and are thanking them in advance for taking on the favor, just as you would in person. I don't doubt there are a few people who presume the worst about anyone, and bend over backwards to mistake courtesy for a form of ingratitude, but the fact remains that the courtesy of thanking in advance is found worldwide and not normally considered to be a slight on the part of the asker. –  MετάEd Nov 22 '11 at 19:47
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The short answer is "Yes". You are correct. "Thanks in advance" presumes help, which can be considered rude. Your question is very specific: Can "Thanks in advance" be considered rude? This is a Yes/No question. Yes, "Thanks in advance" can be considered rude.

Having said that, as others have suggested, it is one of many accepted ways to end an informal communication. I have used it in the past because sometimes, depending on the circumstances, presumption isn't rude. I've also used it when talking to customer services for service providers (TV/internet/etc.), because I don't mind being rude to them and "thanks in advance" makes me feel like at least I'm trying to be polite...

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Depends what you mean by "business context." If you mean a request for information or assistance from a co-worker, then it seems obviously fine. But if you mean a business proposal to a funding company, then probably not.

I think the main purpose of this phrase is to distinguish the request as something you would actually be grateful to have fulfilled. As such it elevates it above a mundane/easy request yet places it below a high-value request. Examples always help:

mundane: "Can you let me know if you have the current stats, or if I need to send an update?"

TIA: "Could you please arrange for a projector to be in the conference room for tomorrow's meeting? Thanks in advance."

high-val: "Please consider the following budget requests to be of prime importance to direction of our company..."

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It means you are expecting help from people who are willing to help you, not that you're commanding other people to help you.

What would be rude and commanding would be "Thank you for your help", in my opinion, because it implies the help must occur.

Also, all of these formulations, because they are commonly used, carry a lot of implicit meaning with them, and those meanings may differ for different writers or readers. For me, for example, "thank you in advance" includes "thank you for reading", "thank you for trying to help if you can", "I'll be grateful if you give me an answer" and "sorry for the time you spend on it" (the last one in all cases).

If someone reading me finds it's rude, he can always suggest me a form that would suit him better, but I would only be careful with my messages to him, not others.

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protected by Jasper Loy Aug 12 '12 at 18:25

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