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Thank you in advance
September 24, 2013 7:19 AM   Subscribe

"Thank you in advance." This is a phrase that annoys me. Should it?

To me, the written phrase "thank you in advance" seems presumptuous, because it implies a presumption that the answer is "yes". In which case the asking is just a mere formality - which in fact it may not be. I realise that this is sometimes a fair presumption (Mefites use it here sometimes - the presumption is people will answer their questions, and usually they do, so fair enough.)

I'm just curious about what Mefites think about the phrase. Is it presumptuous, or is it a standard expression and so am I being way too precious? Would you only use it when the answer is unlikely to be no?

Nope I am not going to sign off with it :)
posted by mister_kaupungister to Human Relations (53 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was absolutely my reasoning in not using "Thank you in advance". It makes it sounds like they will do something rather than they could do something, which you would then thank them for after the fact.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:22 AM on September 24, 2013


For me it would depend on who sent it.
posted by matty at 7:23 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a standard expression that IS presumptuous! Everybody wins!

I only use it when I'm annoying my coworker friend with something I know is annoying, like "heyyyy can you plz figure out why the printer is doing that caCHUNK thing again? TIA."

You are allowed to be annoyed by it. You are also allowed to decline requests that include it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


My impression is that "Thank you in advance" is used by Person A so that, when Person B replies, Person A doesn't feel obligated to send an email that just says "Thanks!" which is an email faux pas.

Usually when I used it, I didn't mean "Thank you in advance for acceding" but "thank you in advance for taking the time to consider and read my email, no matter what your reply" but I stopped using it for the reason you mention - it does come off as presumptuous sometimes.
posted by muddgirl at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [26 favorites]


I actually prefer it to the alternative of simply saying "thank you," because that, to me, is an even worse offense, the disingenuous thank you when no action has been performed to be thanked.

I see it as polite and not as presumptuous. But I think I may be the minority in that. I try to be gracious in all communication, and also say thank you EVERY time it is appropriate. So if I ever use that phrase, or when I see it used, I see it as a way to telegraph "please be aware that I am a person who will appreciate your help if it is given and will not take it for granted."
posted by pazazygeek at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, it is not appropriate for use when you are requesting that somebody do something. I use it when someone's compliance is required. Contrast "I appreciate any assistance you can provide", etc.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2013


Depends on the context.
posted by kavasa at 7:26 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Way too precious about it. (I use this phrase, though. And I have other phrases that rankle me for no good reason other than annoying people in my past have used them, like "I wanted to touch base with you" eeewwwww.)

In my experience "thanks in advance" doesn't so much indicate presumptuousness on the requester's part as it is the requester saying thank you for the time you spend addressing their issue. When I say it on an AskMe, for example, I mean "thank you for taking the time to actually read this entire question" because honestly, most people don't. When I say it on an email to a coworker I normally mean "thank you for reading to the bottom of this email" and then an addition of "please let me know" will indicate "please respond that you've actually read this thing".

You're allowed to be bothered by it and of course allowed to opt not to use it in your own language choices. But perhaps it's best to try to assume positive intentions when people use it. (Like when someone wants to "touch base" with me, I try very hard not to make a lemon-face.)
posted by Mizu at 7:27 AM on September 24, 2013 [23 favorites]


It's acceptable to acknowledge your gratitude in advance for something someone is already going to do for you.

It is not acceptable to use your "gratitude" to strong arm someone into doing something for you that they wouldn't do otherwise.

Which category your usage is in will depend on the circumstances--and your assessment may differ from that of the recipient of the message, so you may do well to avoid it entirely.

Thanks in advance for marking this best answer.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:29 AM on September 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


When I type it it means "I know this is going to mean some work for you, and I appreciate it".
posted by ftm at 7:31 AM on September 24, 2013 [39 favorites]


It does come off as a little bit presumptuous, but it's way better than the bald assumption that the askee will automatically do whatever the asker wants: it's just one of those little bits of grease that make the skids of human interaction move smoother.

Although after saying that, I admit I tend to use a variation: "Thank you for any assistance you can give me."
posted by easily confused at 7:31 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I join the chorus in saying that I find it... not presumptuous, but still kind of teeth-grindy. Like, you're not quite assuming that I'm going to do it, but thanking me for something should include some evaluation of the result, right? Now I can half-ass it, because I've already got the "reward" of your thanks, which is all I'm going to get anyway.

Although after saying that, I admit I tend to use a variation: "Thank you for any assistance you can give me."

I don't know why, but this seems much better to me. It sort of admits, "Hey, you might not be able to help, but I do appreciate you trying," where "Thank you in advance" presupposes the help.
posted by Etrigan at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a phrase that annoys me. Should it?

What is there to gain here other than greater righteousness in your annoyance? Let it go.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Agree that it's a standard phrase and that whether it's presumptuous depends on the circumstances. For example, it's a fair presumption I'll do something my boss tells me to do via email; if he adds "thanks in advance" he's being nice, since I'm gonna do the thing anyway.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't really bother me, unless the person asking it is otherwise pushy or it seems like they're assuming I'll do something that I haven't agreed to do. It can get into passive-aggressive territory depending on the context.

I've used it in AskMes because I know someone will take the time to answer and that's who I want to thank; I'm not thanking all 100,000-odd Mefites or expecting them to answer. Besides, if I ask someone a question and they don't know, or I ask them for a favor and they decline, I often respond with "oh, okay, thanks!" and move on. I'm appreciative of their consideration, whether or not they choose to help me.

I've been moving more towards "thanks for hearing me out" or "I appreciate any insight/help/advice you might have."

As an aside, whenever I read the internet abbreviation "TIA," I like to imagine that there is a young woman named Tia who is the Intern of the Internet and can help with anything, and people are summoning her to come their aid.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I being way too precious? Would you only use it when the answer is unlikely to be no?

Yes, you're being way too precious because it sounds like you just want to rant.

The statement all depends on context, the relationship between the asker and the asked and your general state of mind. If you'd just won a million dollars, after a night of great sex combined with a fabulous dinner and fantastic dolphin hunting trip, you might not even notice the phrase. However, if your'e having a bad day, hearing the phrase might be the one thing that just pushes you over the edge, it all depends.

Everyone has a lot of problems. This pet peeve pretty far down on the list, so just let it go and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


It doesn't really bother me, though now that you mention it I suppose it will bug me a teeny bit in the future. But, to be honest, I think people who use it are probably well-intentioned and mean it more like "thank you in advance if you are able to do it," or "thank you in advance for reading this email," or some variation. In which case, my bigger gripe would be that it is vague.

(Yes, I have used it occasionally, and meant it as "thank you in advance for any help you can provide" and probably won't use it in the future. I did *not* use it to avoid a one word "thanks!" email later, which I was not aware was an email faux pas. So many possible faux pas, none of which warrant getting upset about in my opinion.)
posted by semacd at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2013


No big deal. It's just another convention people use to communicate. I don't use it myself.

I also try to avoid "Best regards," which I often replace with "Be in touch," which sounds like a command but also a continuation...
posted by rmmcclay at 7:49 AM on September 24, 2013


If you want confirmation from someone who occasionally uses this phrase: I mostly use it when I'm hassling my landlord into doing something important they should have done ages ago, out of human decency. Ex: "Please come replace the ancient, dangling outlet next to our kitchen sink with a GFCI outlet. Thanks in advance."

My last boss used it to imply I wasn't working hard enough. "Organize the dry erase markers by color. Thanks in advance."

If I used it with my friends or on Ask, it would be genuinely meant.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:57 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coatlicue: I mostly use it when I'm hassling my landlord into doing something important they should have done ages ago, out of human decency. Ex: "Please come replace the ancient, dangling outlet next to our kitchen sink with a GFCI outlet. Thanks in advance."

Exactly. I most often use this phrase to thank someone for something they should have already done, and they know it.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:08 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I try to say "thanks for considering" instead, because even though I am not annoyed by *other* people using TIA in an obvious good natured way -- after all I know it is a convention -- I feel presumptuous saying it myself, because I didn't grow up with that convention.
It is said by people who are trying to be deferential to me, so I know it's just an attempt at politeness. Often at least.
It is similar when people say "Please get back to me at your earliest convenience." I think they are often trying to be gracious and even deferential -- "do this when it is convenient!" But I can't use the phrase myself because it sounds like I"m telling them to do it ASAP.
posted by third rail at 8:11 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find an important distinction between addressing one person in particular with "thanks in advance" and what people have said upthread about, for example, thanking a group of prospective AskMe responders. I think it's kind of annoying when people tack it on to the end of a work email addressed to me alone since they're implying they aren't really asking me to do something but ordering me. (I know my bosses can order me to do things, but I prefer a sense of civility about it.) When written to a group, I think it reads more like "thank you for taking the time to think about this and I hope you'll help me out" since the obligation is more widely dispersed.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:11 AM on September 24, 2013


I just want to add, it's a bit unfair to presume arrogance considering it's a phrase that's made it to international business English, and plenty of us non-native speakers have adopted it as stock phrase with no intention to offend. It may be annoying if you want to parse it down to that level, but I genuinely never thought to mean it that way. Like many above, I'm using it to thank in advance for any assistance, and for even entertaining my message.
posted by cendawanita at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nthing that it is explicitly presumptuous, and whether it is appropriate or not depends entirely on who is being thanked and whether the writer can reasonably presume that they'll take the action or provide the information requested. I tend to say "Thanks in advance for [any guidance you can provide, any assistance you can offer, etc. as the situation dictates.]" This leaves room for the recipient to politely decline my request, in which case my expression of thanks no longer has a target and so fails to resolve, and the Gratitude Points return to my pool unspent.
posted by contraption at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use "thanks in advance" when I know that I can expect my request to be filled simply by having made said request. So for example, when I request IT tech support via a heat ticket system. Since it is their primary role to troubleshoot my issues I can thank them for simply fulfilling their role of at least attempting to troubleshoot even if they cannot solve my problem specifically later on. I never thought about the phrase locking someone into obligation, but as a means of showing appreciation.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:28 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Eh. I can see your point, but I think we need to pick our battles and a lot of people use this one without any sort of intentional presumption, and biting their heads off doesn't help.

If you want something for your own use, I rather like "Thank you for your consideration." Expresses gratitude for the time and energy they spend on your issue without presupposing any particular outcome.
posted by jackbishop at 8:49 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tend to hear that one on issues I'm already involved in, so in most contexts it doesn't bother me. However, I have a certain coworker that has taken to using a preemptive "thank you for your prompt response to this matter" or "thank you for your immediate attention" and it drives me nuts (I don't work for her, there are other specifically sanctioned internal ways to indicate urgent questions, etc.
posted by Pax at 8:51 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it presumptuous, or is it a standard expression and so am I being way too precious?

I think it is fine. An older (and more formal) variant is "thank you for your cooperation". Yes, the statement presumes that cooperation will actually be forthcoming. In the situations where this phrase is generally used, I tend not to be aghast at the presumption. When I see, "no smoking - thank you for your cooperation", I think the asshole is the person who smokes regardless of the request, not the asker.

FWIW, this phrase is often encountered in Japan as ご協力ありがとうございます,* a land where politeness is a matter of national pride and I am pretty sure they have the Polite Police.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:55 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's moving on to 'thanks' when we're still at 'please'. It's trying to pre-empt any need to be grateful in future.

Depending on context you could try 'Thanks for not minding that it's going to be late and not what you really wanted,' as a rejoinder.

I suppose if I had attained full maturity nothing would annoy me, but that would be no fun.
posted by Segundus at 9:11 AM on September 24, 2013


In my work, I use variations of this all the time. As an example, client was looking to send a television commercial to me, and it required some work by a third party.

"Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for that spot! Let me know where I can find that on the FTP, appreciate the help."

I find that phrase "appreciate the help" (which is basically "Thanks in advance") is my way of saying "I acknowledge this might be a slight inconvenience to you, particularly because you're not getting paid directly for this task." This is especially true in my line of work, often making requests on behalf of clients.

It has nothing to do with avoiding another email to say "Thanks", which I do send as confirmation that everything has been completed on both our ends.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:13 AM on September 24, 2013


I rarely use the phrase because I know it bugs people, but it doesn't bother me. I guess I assume for the most part that people are not trying to be snarky, and that one of the biggest problems with email vs face to face or telephone communication is that tone is almost impossible to read. So I give people the benefit of the doubt unless and until I have reason to think otherwise.

I tend to say "Thanks for whatever you can do." But I want to thank people in advance when I make a request of them so that it doesn't come off like a demand or ultimatum. The only time I use this is when I am asking something of someone who could conceivably not do it, even if it's in their best interest to do so (i.e., send me signature pages to hold in escrow so that their funding can take place).

If people get pissed off when I thank them, then what the fuck. To me, that creates an enigma along the lines of using the word "literally" to mean "figuratively." Then what do we say when we mean "figuratively"? "Literally"? If that's the case, then the next time I ask something of someone via email, I'll close with "Oh and fuck you for not doing what I asked."
posted by janey47 at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2013


For me it depends on the context. If you are open-ended asking for a favor it is incredibly presumptuous and rude. If you are requesting something you need and it is the other person's responsibility to provide (like, RSVPs are required to attend per an invite, or you are sending a due date reminder email for a deliverable to a lagging employee, ahem) then I feel like it's another way of saying you appreciate the time it will take them to be not rude and do what they should.

It's certainly backhanded, but it has a purpose.
posted by itsonreserve at 10:06 AM on September 24, 2013


To me, it sounds polite in certain situations and not in others. Some examples of where it sounds polite to me would be i) coming from a boss, ii) a co-worker making a request that is explicitly part of your job duties, iii) in a situation where someone is enumerating a local rule (e.g., house rules, no smoking signs, etc), or iv) a request for information to a large group of people (e.g., "does anyone know where the command for XXX is in the new version of YYY? Thanks in advance" to a mailing list).

I guess the common thread here is that if someone tells you "thanks in advance," I would expect that it was a situation where that person had some authority (as a boss, a host). If not, there should at least be enough diffusion of responsibility that you don't feel like the person is specifically making a demand of you (the mailing list example).

On the other hand, if I got an e-mail from a collaborator or peer asking if I would be willing to do them a favor and it ended "thanks in advance," I would suspect that perhaps the sender misunderstood our relationship, or my job description.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:26 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


"TIA" annoys me way more than "thank you in advance". Like, you can't take the few seconds it costs to actually type the words...?

It's always come across as some sort of thinly veiled "you will do this" to me. I was always taught that you say please beforehand and thank you afterwards. Saying the afterwards bit first just jars my brain a little, because it makes me think that you can't be bothered to respond after I've done whatever thing it is you're thanking me for. Somehow, a thank you after I've done whatever is worth much much more.
posted by Solomon at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the better question to ask is whether or not you want to let these things bother you. No matter whether it is or isn't, feeling annoyed by harmless quirks and not identifying them as harmless or interpreting them for more than what they are seems stressful/stirring the pot-type behavior. Wouldn't you rather just be chill and think people do their best to get along?

For what it's worth, it's just something people close emails with. No more thought is really necessary.
posted by discopolo at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2013


I don't use it, but I'm not sure I always would respond as if the sender was being presumptuous; it depends on the context and the person. I say "thanks for your time" when I've made a request in which I want to be polite and show my appreciation for the recipient having considered the request, so I don't necessarily assume that someone saying "thanks in advance" is thanking me for anything more than reading their email.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe I recently used just this phrase on an Ask question. I did so because yes, I do expect *somebody* to answer, and since this is not chatting, I shouldn't really go around thanking every answer individually. I think if you're asking a group something that you could reasonably expect a response, it's not presumptuous (or perhaps it is, but it's okay, because it's also a correct assumption). If someone specifically asked *one* person a question/favor and said "thanks in advance", I think that is inappropriate and presumptuous, and just a bit lazy.
posted by ethidda at 10:57 AM on September 24, 2013


> Nthing that it is explicitly presumptuous

It is not explicitly presumptuous. It is explicitly an expression of gratitude. It can, as is clear from some of the responses here, be seen as presumptuous, but that is something you choose to read into it, not something that is there for all to see. I myself have never seen it that way, nor has it ever irritated me. I have doubtless used it on occasion, and if someone told me they found it annoying, I would have just shrugged and thought "it takes all kinds." I mean, you might as well get annoyed at people saying "thank god!" because they're explicitly thrusting religion on you.
posted by languagehat at 11:32 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


it implies a presumption that the answer is "yes"

Sure, and that's exactly how it's used.

I use it in situations where conversation about the favor is minimal and it's something where the answer is going to be yes, but I have to ask anyway to be polite.

For example sending a text to my neighbor: "Is it OK if I use your grill tonight? I'll clean it afterwards, of course. Thanks in advance!" In this case I know my neighbor is generally OK with me using his grill, and I know he rarely uses it and it's unlikely that tonight, of all nights, he will decide he's just got to grill something. So the answer is a presumed yes, and the asking permission is just to make sure it's definitely OK.

On the other hand, if people are using it where the answer can't be presumed to be "yes", that's frustrating and would probably annoy me, too.
posted by Sara C. at 11:51 AM on September 24, 2013


It is not explicitly presumptuous. It is explicitly an expression of gratitude.

Not to argue language with someone who wears it as a hat, but doesn't it presume that something will be done to warrant thanks? That's presumptuous, by letter and spirit.
posted by Etrigan at 11:52 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


As worded I see it as making an explicit presumption that the writers request will be answered in the affirmative. The "thanks" offered is not for something that has happened already (like the reader having taken the time to read the request) but rather for what the writer presumes will happen in response to the request. I'm using "explicitly presumptuous" here only to mean "makes a presumption about what the reader will do." languagehat, does your interpretation mean that the scope of the expression of gratitude should be assumed to encompass "thanks anyway if you're unwilling or unable to help me?" I could see that, and I guess it's usually the meaning I imagine when I want to give somebody the benefit of the doubt, but I think that interpretation reads more into the statement than is explicitly there.

It's not something I find especially annoying, but it is a usage I avoid because it does seem a bit imposing, and I figure if I'm going to thank somebody at all it's worth a few seconds to actually write out what I'm thanking them for.
posted by contraption at 11:57 AM on September 24, 2013


I agree with en forme de poire: it's a phrase that I usually see, and very rarely use, when someone is couching a command in the form of a request. I don't find it annoying in that context, but I don't particularly think it's necessary.

When writing to someone who has no obligation to do what I am requesting, I will write, "Thanks for your time and attention" or "Thanks for your time and consideration."
posted by brianogilvie at 12:07 PM on September 24, 2013


OK I didn't quite give you all the information about why I was asking.

A friend who is a non-native English speaker uses this sometimes, when we do favours for each other (and we often need to communicate by text). Obviously my friend is just trying to be polite, and I don't take it against them at all. But when I see that phrase, I have a 2 second - whoa - a bit forceful there! - before I think, well ok. And I did wonder about telling my friend that it's a bit presumptuous (they have told me in the past that they want to improve their general English communication skills). But then I was not sure - I can be precious sometimes. And I don't want to misinform my friend or dent their confidence unnecessarily.

cendawanita and Tanziaki - my friend is also a non-native Japanese speaker - so will bare your comments in mind especially. But thank you all.
posted by mister_kaupungister at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2013


I find this an interesting question, since this is something that I had never really thought about.

I use "thanks in advance" when asking someone to do something that they could reasonably be expected to do (like sending me a confirmation of a reservation or something like that) and "I'd very much appreciate any information / assistance you could / would be willing to give me" when asking for a favour. Now that I think about it, there does seem to be an element of presumption in "thanks in advance", though it doesn't bother me when I'm at the receiving end.

Note: non-native English speaker here.
posted by rjs at 12:49 PM on September 24, 2013


Native English speaker here.

Never see "Thank you in advance" only "Thanks in advance" and find the notion bizarre, that this expression would be used in a situation where the request might be refused.
posted by Rash at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2013


I don't use the phrase personally, however, I have always taken it to mean: "thank you for taking the time to read my email and consider my request" not "thanks for doing this thing I'm pushing onto you without your consent."
posted by Shouraku at 1:33 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Thanks in advance" bothers me because it seems to imply that the person won't have to thank me after I've done the thing they have asked for. I try not to use it myself because I don't want to imply that to anyone else.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:20 PM on September 24, 2013


> Not to argue language with someone who wears it as a hat, but doesn't it presume that something will be done to warrant thanks? That's presumptuous, by letter and spirit.

No, it's not. "Presumptuous" has a meaning of its own, which cannot be deduced from the fact that it is based on the verb "presume"; that meaning is (to take the first two definitions Google offers me) "(of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate" or "Going beyond what is right or proper; excessively forward." In other words, it is a putdown, not an objective description.

> languagehat, does your interpretation mean that the scope of the expression of gratitude should be assumed to encompass "thanks anyway if you're unwilling or unable to help me?"

Yes.

> I think that interpretation reads more into the statement than is explicitly there.

That's what interpretation is. We always have to read more into statements than is explicitly there; that's how language works. And very frequently, simple and apparently anodyne statements ("Have a nice day") can be used in particular contexts in insulting/provocative ways. Part of growing up is learning how to interpret language in context, and none of us ever gets perfect at it. But assuming the best of a speaker's intentions in the absence of obvious cues to the contrary is a good rule to adopt.

> "Thanks in advance" bothers me because it seems to imply that the person won't have to thank me after I've done the thing they have asked for.

This seems to me a very odd interpretation. I myself always thank people after they've done something for me, whether or not I've thanked them in advance, and I seriously doubt it is ever used in an attempt to avoid having to do so. Why would you go to the trouble? I suggest you recalibrate your thinking about this.
posted by languagehat at 1:48 PM on September 25, 2013


Your friend's a non-native English speaker. Cut him some slack.

(I use this because it's a polite, convenient signoff. "Best" doesn't cut it for me. "Sincerely" doesn't cut it in email.)
posted by dekathelon at 4:08 PM on September 25, 2013


Well, apparently I've been using "presumptuous" wrong all these years. I'd always interpreted it to mean simply "acting in a way that makes unverified presumptions," but that does seem at odds with the dictionary definitions which all seem to relate specifically to decorum and social propriety. I retract my statement that the construction is "explicitly presumptuous," what I meant to say is that it makes an explicit presumption (that the reader will respond positively to the request.)

To me it doesn't feel like an attempt to get out of expressing gratitude later so much as an attempt to make the reader feel obliged to acquiesce. "Here's my request, thanks a bunch, it will have been so nice of you to have done this for me after you've done it." Now they're stuck following through with the request or rudely informing the asker that their pre-gratitude was in fact misplaced. What makes it feel pushy (and, yes, in certain contexts presumptuous) is the way it conveys the assumption that a positive response is forthcoming and that a refusal would be a surprising disappointment.

It's easy when discussing minutiae like this to sound like you really worry over every bit of peoples' syntax, so let me reiterate that this is a minor thing and that I think most people who use it intend it only as a warm, polite signoff. I could imagine receiving a "thanks in advance" that in context seemed like a deliberate goad or an attempt at manipulation, and in such a situation I might take umbrage, but it's never actually happened to me and I don't really expect it to. Instead when somebody uses it I typically presume they mean it in the best possible way, which is to say "You're free to do what you want with this request, please accept my gratitude for deigning even to consider it," but I do think that this interpretation involves a bit of charitable mental rewriting, and that's why I avoid using the construction myself.
posted by contraption at 4:52 PM on September 25, 2013


"Presumptuous" has a meaning of its own, which cannot be deduced from the fact that it is based on the verb "presume"; that meaning is (to take the first two definitions Google offers me) "(of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate" or "Going beyond what is right or proper; excessively forward." In other words, it is a putdown, not an objective description.

The first dictionary.com definition is "full of, characterized by, or showing presumption or readiness to presume in conduct or thought." Do you think it might be possible that your version of words is not the version of words?
posted by Etrigan at 5:05 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


[From this point forward, answer the OPs question and take side conversations to MeMail, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 PM on September 25, 2013


I personally use "thanks for your time", and that's a formality I often drop with friends unless I'm asking something professional of them. I believe the only context in which I've used "thanks in advance" would be a client relationship where attention to my issue is presumed (I need to recover a password; you need to unlock the thing I just paid to unlock; etc)

However, it's not clear that your friend in specific has the level of fluency required to make this distinction, if indeed it is even a distinction worth making. Isn't it always generally better to assume your friend means the least annoying thing possible, and pretend he said that instead?

My dad has developed what is, to me, the infuriating habit of signing off on his emails with "Stay Stress-Free". I hate it so much, flames, face, etc, I find it ridiculously presumptuous and the capital letters bother me and oh my god that hyphen. But what he means is, "hope you're well" or "love". So, sure, I get that two seconds hate thing, and I'm not going to say you "shouldn't" get annoyed, cause they're your feelings. But especially in the context of regular correspondence with a friend or colleague, it's manageable. If your friend isn't presuming your attention where you wouldn't normally give it, he's just saying "thanks" or "appreciate it". Do your best to read those words instead.
posted by Errant at 7:09 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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