Is it thank you, thankyou or thank-you?
If you look out for this phrase, you will see it written in all manner of ways, in various documents. It would be nice to know which is right and wrong – and why.
We use three forms in British English – one is the verb (doing word), while the others are the noun (thing) and adjective (describing word).
This is the verb ‘to thank’, with a direct object ‘you’.
In fact, you will know that this is two separate words, if you use the full sentence which is hidden underneath – ‘I thank you.’
From this comes the shortened version which we hear daily – ‘thank you’. It is always two words.
- Thank you for coming today to this talk on written communications.
- Thank you for your letter of 23 June 2004.
This is the noun ‘a thankyou’.
- He gave a great big thankyou to all concerned.
- There were thankyous all around as the conference ended.
This is also the spelling for the adjective, describing something (a noun) to follow.
- He gave a thankyou card to his mother.
- The thankyou speech was most moving.
So, why do we see ‘thank-you’ written?
If you look here, you will see how two-part verbs change to serve as nouns also, often going through the etymological change over several years.
|Step 1||They are verbs||I thank you|
|Step 2||They become hyphenated compound nouns||A thank-you|
|Step 3||They become closed nouns||A thankyou|
So, some dictionaries are still using the ‘thank-you’ form, while others show the more inevitable ‘thankyou’ form for the noun.