I often get messages that end in "thank you in advance". Is it a recent trend or is it my imagination?

This expression strikes me as misused in many situations. One example was a recent post on this website(no offense intended to the author). The question posted was ended with "thank you in advance". What if the comment to the question is insulting or condescending. The writer would not be grateful.

Let's say my sister tells me she would like a sweater for her birthday and ends the message with "Thank you in advance." It is more like an order. Emails from work ask for reports to be written by the end of the day. "Thank you in advance" is often the included. If there is an emergency and the report is not completed, is the sender still thankful?

In informal situations, it is useful. If you can't thank someone because you will be away or busy, the phrase fits. Is is presumptuous in formal situations, or am I blowing this out of porportion?

  • Thank you is used to express gratitude & acknowledgement for something that has been done. I also think thanks in advance is presumptuous and I would drop it for something like "I appreciate any help you can give". – Ben Oct 24 '15 at 0:53
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    In the context of a gift it's presumptuous, but in online forums, and maybe one-to-one emails, it's commonly understood to be a bandwidth and time/attention saver. I agree with @TowerofTesla about offering appreciation, but you're still doing it in advance. If you then follow up with a separate "Thanks" you haven't saved anything. (-: – Jim Mack Oct 24 '15 at 1:38
  • I don't disagree. You make a great point regarding real-life practicability @JimMack – Ben Oct 24 '15 at 2:05
  • What's your question? Are you asking whether the use is recent? No. Are you asking whether it is presumptuous in formal situations? Define "presumptuous" and "formal situation" - that question is primarily opinion-based, and should be closed. – Drew Oct 24 '15 at 2:15
  • Yes, "Thank you in advance" is abused, more often than not, but this is not really a new phenomenon. It's simply that more and more people (especially non-tech-literate people) are using email-style communications and some fraction of those people always seem to settle on TYIA as a "suitable" valediction, to be used regardless of the circumstances. – Hot Licks Oct 24 '15 at 3:24

I have never seen it used anywhere other than in online forums and message-boards; Therefore, the answer to your question regarding whether it is a recently adopted trend is entirely dependent on your relative frame of reference.

With respect to the existence and development of English, as a language, then yes, it entered into common use extremely recently; However, in the context of the existence and development of the internet, well then the answer would have to be 'no' as it is nearly as old as the culture of slightly-delayed messaging found in forum communities. In fact the phrase might even be slightly older than the internet since the use of cork-board bulletin boards could easily have evoked a similar need.

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