My colleague who is American spells "thank's" (with an apostrophe) and when I ask him why he said because it's "more formal" and "he uses American English".

Is this true? Can you really spell "thank's" in American English and is it really considered more formal?

EDIT: Well, I do know it's not true. I just wanted to have someone native explain it so it is more persuasive. And I have seen this incorrect spelling so many time that judging just by usage - it is correct :) Just Google search gives about 2,500,000 occurrences... You may even be easily mislead by a dictionary title and it doesn't say it's wrong!

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    Your colleague may be American, but he is not fully on top of his language. Jul 25, 2014 at 11:28
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    Your colleague will not be able to come up with a single dictionary that has an entry for thank's, or a single book that uses it anywhere. He only just invented that reasoning fresh on the spot, possibly to cover up his egregious error, or just to mess with you.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 25, 2014 at 11:32
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    Again, why -2 points? Evidently the question is not so trivial if a native speaker stated this. And it's difficult to find resources on internet on the incorrect spelling of a word. It's a pity that we don't have a rule that whoever votes down a question must state why they think the question is bad. Jul 25, 2014 at 13:26
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    This edit looks better @HonzaZidek. I have to say the previous one did deserve a down-vote (not the original one, IMHO), however I haven't down-voted for this question, because it's a decent one, AND the more exposure to these sinful errors, the better! People should stop making terrible mistakes like this.
    – Neeku
    Jul 26, 2014 at 22:12
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    Some American's have problem's with apostrophe's ;-) Jan 2, 2016 at 9:15

1 Answer 1


's shows either possession, or when the following word i.g. is/us/... is abbreviated. Therefore, in this case, 's can only be used if you're talking about something that belongs to "thank", which makes no sense at all; nor if you're saying "thank is" which does not make sense, either.

The s at the end of the word "thanks" is just a plural s and adding any apostrophe before that is just an error. Native speakers in each language may happen to make mistakes.

Word origin:

Date: 1300-1400 Origin: Plural of thank 'gratefulness' (11-17 centuries), from Old English thanc 'thought, gratefulness'

Says the subscription-only LDOCE.

To make your appreciation/gratefulness in a more formal way, you could say:

Thank you so much for your assistance.


As mentioned in the comment, if "thank" is being used as a verb, s would be added to make it third person singular:

She always thanks her mother for the meals she cooks.

However, there's another note that can be a common mistake among learners or non-native speakers who happen to use the verb form with that third person singular s for all persons; so instead of saying

"Thank God" or "Thank heavens" or "Thank goodness",

they'd say:

"Thanks God", etc.

Here, the full sentence would be: "I thank God for ...", and obviously, "I" is first person, rather than the third.

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    If one considers the verb "to thank", the s could also be a third-person s. Jul 25, 2014 at 11:27
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    Right @painfulenglish. I'll edit and add this to my answer.
    – Neeku
    Jul 25, 2014 at 11:27
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    It's also an error in British English, but quite a common one (in Greengrocer's English). I think it's worth saying that generally, if you want to sound more "formal", you should use "thank you" rather than "thanks".
    – Rupe
    Jul 25, 2014 at 11:28
  • An apostrophe can donate one or more missing letters at any point in a word, and certainly not only in is/us. Thin of the common poetic "e'er" for "ever". Jan 2, 2016 at 9:16

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