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A friend who works in business says that she has been hearing a lot of polite commands worded as e.g. "thanks to ask any questions at the end of the presentation" (she has also seen this written a few times, so it isn't just spoken).

I find this surprising since I would have avoided the infinitive here ("thanks for asking") or I would have turned the "thanks" into a verb ("I'll thank you to ask").

For context, she works in a very international setting, but has heard this turn of phrase only from USAmericans.

Is this a "correct" turn of phrase? how widespread is it? how recent is it? can anyone find examples in established writing?

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I haven't heard or read it. The usual thing to say in British English would be something like 'I'd appreciate it if you'd keep any questions until the end. That way I can deal with them more thoroughly.' Still, if it's used, it's used. No point in worrying about whether it's 'correct'. –  Barrie England Sep 7 '12 at 11:07
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American-speakers and speakers of International English I've heard usually say "Please hold your questions until after the talk." –  user21497 Sep 7 '12 at 11:56
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It sounds like these people are using "Thanks to" instead of "I will thank you to..." or simply "Please." ("Please ask any questions at the end...") I am in the US, and I have never heard this, nor do I think it sounds correct. –  JLG Sep 7 '12 at 12:39
    
Interestingly, please to ask any questions..., though grating, doesn't sound as strange as thanks to ask. –  TimLymington Sep 7 '12 at 18:09
    
@BarrieEngland: (slightly tongue-in-cheek) I think I am really asking, "is it OK for me to laugh at them for being illiterate idiots, or am I going to look like the idiot when everybody starts using this phrase?" –  Sam Lisi Sep 8 '12 at 8:21

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The people OP's "friend who works in business" deals with are either non-native speakers of English, or very illiterate/sloppy.

I'm not sure there is a credible phrasing involving "thanks" for a command/request not yet carried out, since semantically it's nonsense. The closest I can come up with is...

I will thank you (to keep your opinions to yourself, nose out of this, hands off me, etc.)

...but this form is normally only used after someone has already done the opposite (or was obviously just about to do so). It's somewhat dated, and very haughty/confrontational/rude.

The rudeness of the above form is a good reason for steering clear of thanking anyone for anything in advance. People do often write "Thanks in advance" at the end of letters/emails asking for something which they expect/are entitled to receive, but I wouldn't push it.

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I agree that thanking someone in advance is rather presumptuous and should be avoided, but it is not rare for (educated, native) speakers of English to word commands that way. The most obvious one I can think of, "thank you for not smoking". I've heard "thank you for stowing your tray tables [...] at this time" on the airplane too. –  Sam Lisi Sep 8 '12 at 5:39
    
"Illiterate/sloppy" is also my friend's conclusion and likely to be correct, given that no one else here has heard this unusual phrasing. –  Sam Lisi Sep 8 '12 at 5:53

"Thanks to" cannot go before "ask any questions at the end of the presentation."

Using "thanks to" before a command like that is incorrect.

The correct way to phrase it would be:

"Thanks for asking any questions at the end of the presentation" with the unspoken implication of "as opposed to asking them during the presentation"

It requires the past tense of ask and it requires "for" and not "to" because by using "to" the thanks are being directed to a specific entity whereas the "for" directs the thanks to any entity who meets the criteria set out in the next part of the sentence.

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The noun "thanks" is used informally to express gratitude or appreciation.

Like what you thought, we use it this way:

thanks for something/ thanks for doing something

"Thanks to" as a phrase is used to say that someone or something is responsible for something good that happened. (Or, to blame someone or something for something bad.) It is normally followed by a noun.

Merriam-Webster also classifies "thanks to" as a preposition to mean "with the help of" or "because of."

As such, it will be followed by a noun.

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This doesn't really answer the question. It's not asking how to use "thanks to"—it's asking whether the unrelated use in the question is correct, common, and attested in writing. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 18:21
    
@SevenSidedDie, What do you think it means when I put both Merriam-Webster and Macmillan as references saying "thanks to" is followed by a Noun? Do I still have to say that it's not followed by a base verb for the imperative? –  Cool Elf Sep 7 '12 at 18:44
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Yes, a good answer explicitly addresses the question. That there are forms of "thanks to" that operate one way doesn't logically mean that there aren't other forms that are used in informal speech, nor does it explain why the asker has heard these examples. It also doesn't address attestation at all. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 18:49
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That's not what the question is asking. Your answer makes it sound like you think the asker is stupid for missing the obvious, when clearly they already know the usage you describe. They are asking about an unusual usage that is so common among AmEng speakers that it is making them wonder if it is at all correct (possibly in some American dialect). Quoting MW doesn't acknowledge any of the context of the question. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 18:53
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Not everyone has edit privileges. Even if I did edit it, I would be completely changing the answer, not adding to it, because it doesn't answer the question in its current form. That's what downvotes are for, not edits. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 18:59

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