Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A colleague of mine recently wrote in an email "much thanks for your efforts." Does this usage make sense? How does "much thanks" differ from "many thanks"?

This is similar to "Is “Many thanks” a proper usage?"

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Much thanks means the same thing as many thanks, but many thanks is the standard form of this phrase, and much thanks is probably merely a corruption of the concept. Basically, thanks is a plural noun (think of each "thank" as an individual expression of gratefulness).

Grammar Girl has a post relating to and pertinently addressing this topic:

..."Which is correct: much thanks or many thanks? I hear much thanks but it just doesn't sound right."

According to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, "thanks" is plural, having come from the Middle English singular word "thank." Therefore, "many thanks" is the right phrase because we use "many" with plural count nouns, and we use "much" with mass nouns.

As to popularity, Ngrams, Google searching, COCA, and BNC all concur in that many thanks is vastly more common.

Perusing Google Books led me to a charming passage in a publication of letters to the editor which touches on this topic:

157.--In your article on "Incomparable Wessex, Again," in the May number, I see the expression "Much thanks." Will you kindly tell me if this is correct? Should it not be "Many thanks"?

Undoubtedly it should, though the writer may have had Shakespeare in mind. See "Hamlet," Act I, Scene 1. Still, the expression "Thank you!" or "I thank you!" is always to be preferred to "Many thanks!" or "Thanks!"

share|improve this answer
    
so is "much thanks" actually wrong? Since much is used with uncountable nouns and thanks is not an uncountable noun. –  Mike Pone Mar 9 '12 at 16:18
    
Pedantically, it is, but are you going to tell Shakespeare? You could also reason your way out by inferring that the idea of a thank is absurd, and thanks, like love, is a mass moun. Be that as it may, I will neither endorse it nor commit myself to its demise (since the lines are, as demonstrated, a little blurred). Grammar isn't always hard and fast rules. –  Daniel Mar 9 '12 at 16:38
    
Language changes. Shakespeare uses all sorts of obsolete expressions. I suspect thanks was used as a mass noun much more then. –  Peter Shor Mar 9 '12 at 19:54

In Act I, Scene i of ‘Hamlet’, Francisco says ‘For this relief much thanks.’ That may still be found in modern usage as your colleague has shown, but 'many thanks’ is much more usual. The Corpus of Contemporary English, for example, has 13 records of ‘much thanks’, against 243 of ‘many thanks’.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, but I can't help thinking OP's colleague isn't a native speaker - or if she is, she's probably not what I would call a very competent one. As per your citation, much thanks would have been fine in Elizabethan times, but it sounds really weird to me in the context of emails. –  FumbleFingers Mar 8 '12 at 18:33
    
@FumbleFingers: Indeed. –  Barrie England Mar 8 '12 at 18:33
    
I have nothing to indicate that my colleague is not a native speaker. His name is very American and he speaks very natively, so it surprised me to see him use this form in an email. –  Mike Pone Mar 9 '12 at 16:16

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.