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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.

closed as primarily opinion-based by David, Dan Bron, Mari-Lou A, Rory Alsop, AndyT Jul 26 '17 at 11:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 92
    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.stackexchange.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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    In my experience, a lot of help vampires on Stack Overflow use "Thanks in advance", so I've developed a bit of a bias against the phrase that has nothing to do with the phrase itself. – Andrew Grimm Aug 12 '12 at 6:32

11 Answers 11

86

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.)

  • 6
    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. – Chani 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
43

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.

  • 12
    Or even eternally grateful! – Adam Robinson Nov 23 '11 at 15:07
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    @AdamRobinson, That's rude since its bordering on fake politeness.... – Pacerier Mar 8 '15 at 14:31
21

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.

  • 3
    +1: Maybe sometimes it's rude, but sometimes it's actually polite. – Cascabel Nov 23 '11 at 17:27
10

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.

10

I cannot speak for others, but I dislike the phrase not just because it implies the expectation that help will be provided (as mentioned by others) but also because it suggests that no thanks will be given after the service has been provided.

When I make a request, I prefer to say one of:

  • Thank you for considering this request.
  • In any case, thank you for your time.

You could also say:

  • I would be grateful for any assistance.

I think these expressions are more appropriate in formal correspondence than "Thanks in advance".

  • 1
    +1. Absolutely agree with these sentiments. When it is clear that the person asking for help understands that it takes effort for others to provide that help I always feel encouraged to assist. I will never help someone who says "thanks in advance", because they have already hit the button with their beak and are simply waiting for the food pellet. – Wossname Feb 7 '16 at 20:57
  • A teacher demonstrated the uselessness of this phrase by walking to a student who had a pack of nuts. He said, "Gee, those nuts look delicious. You mind if I have one?" He took a nut, ate it, then said, "Thanks, in advance." I think he made the point, well. – DanF Jan 19 '17 at 17:42
7

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. – MetaEd Nov 22 '11 at 19:47
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    I think that there may be a problem in assuming someone else's goodwill. Perhaps, that works with your parents and very close friends as well as co-workers whom you know well enough not minding the request. Most people, I think, don't like the imposition. Thanks, in advance, for considering my viewpoint ;-) – DanF Jan 19 '17 at 17:38
6

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.... – GBa 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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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...

4

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..."

2

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.

-1

Even thought it could, as other have suggested, this has not stopped its long dated historical use. According to Google Ngram viewer, the first recorded use comes from the middle of the XIX century:

enter image description here

Now, the context in which that phrase might have been could be different from the one you want to use. Here is an example of a letter from Richard Owen to Charles Darwin, written in 1859. The letter opens with:

I thank you in advance for your kind recollection of me, and shall welcome your work with the close & continuous perusal you recommend,...

The phrase might have also been in use in Italian (anticipatamente ringraziando, see English translation of 1869's letter to Darwin), and French (je vous remercie d’avance, see English translation of 1871's letter to Darwin).

Notice however the use of this expression seems to have reached a peak in 1997. This search of course is about books, which means it does not capture its use in e-mails, which we might date from roughly that period onwards, when the Internet and emails started to become widespread.

  • 01 AM? Somethings wrong with your x-axis for sure. How did that even happen?! No repro for me, so you can use this image instead. – Laurel Jul 19 '17 at 15:45
  • @Laurel Thanks! For some reason, that is what I always get when using Ngram! Something must be wrong with my pc. – luchonacho Jul 19 '17 at 17:11

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