With a myriad of different ways to thank someone in the English language, it can be somewhat confusing to know the correct turn of phrase to use. Especially once you start to throw in variables such as multiple people and even objects. 'Thank you both' or 'thanks to both of you' is one of those phrases.
In this article, we’re going to help answer a question our readers have been asking: should we be saying 'thank you both' or 'thanks to both of you'?
To thank someone is to express your gratitude to them. The full phrase is ‘I thank you’, but nowadays, it’s more common to drop the subject ‘I’ and simply shorten it to ‘thank you’, or even ‘thanks’.
The term has been used since before the 12th century, and stems from the Latin tongēre which means ‘to know’. One way this can be interpreted is as someone saying to another person ‘I know what you did and I will not forget it’.
The word ‘both’ serves to refer to two people or things. It’s a word that can be included in a sentence to bring attention to the fact that the statement being made relates to the two people or things.
‘Both’ can be a pronoun, determiner, or predeterminer.
The phrase ‘thank you’ can, in and of itself, be used in both singular and plural contexts. This means you can use it to thank just one person, two people, or a group of people. Picture for instance an actor receiving an award, and going on stage and emotionally saying into the mic: “Thank you”.
So why, when, bring in the use of the word ‘both’?
The word ‘both’ comes in to emphasize the fact that the statement you are making includes the two recipients you are addressing.
Imagine, for instance, that a couple hosted you for dinner. During dinner, you thank them, but one of them downplays their role in preparing the dinner by saying their wife put in most of the work. At the end of the dinner, you might want to make use of the word ‘both’ to show that you are grateful to the two of them, even though one of them doesn’t feel worthy of the appreciation. In this instance, you could use both ‘thank you both’ and ‘thanks to both of you’.
So which of the two expressions should you use? ‘Thank you both’ or ‘thanks to both of you’?
The truth is, these are both correct and carry the same meaning in many different contexts. In the phrase ‘thank you both’, ‘both’ is short for ‘both of you’.
The main thing to remember is that with either phrase, you are using it to thank two people. It won’t work for just one person, and it won’t work for more than two, either.
If both phrases are correct ways to thank two people, then what’s the difference?
In reality, the distinctions are quite subtle.
In the phrase, ‘thank you both’, ‘thank you’ is considered a phrase, meaning the words ‘thank’ and ‘you’ can’t be separated.
Conversely, in the phrase ‘thanks to both of you’, the word ‘thanks’ is a noun, which is why it’s okay to separate it from the word ‘you’.
There’s an interesting twist with the term ‘thanks to’ since it’s also used as an idiom. You can use it to express the fact that you know something was achieved due to the help of someone else. Or in other words, that something happened because of someone. For instance, if your parents told you about a vacancy they saw posted online, you might say:
If you wanted to thank them directly, you might say:
The same structure can also be used sarcastically. For instance, if your friends were late to meet you at the train station, you might say:
As you can see, in this context, you can only use ‘thanks to both of you’. The use of ‘thank you both’ would be incorrect.
This is the only time when you can use one but not the other term when choosing between ‘thank you both' or "thanks to both of you'.
What if you want to thank more than just two people? As we saw previously, the word ‘both’ can only be applied to contexts where two people are being thanked. As such, 'thank you both' or 'thanks to both of you' are appropriate to use in this context.
So if you wanted to thank larger groups of people, how would you do that?
Read on for some examples of correct ways to thank a group of people:
Did you know that the English language has hundreds of ways of saying thank you, perhaps even more? Many of these don’t even include the word ‘thanks’. Here are some of our favorites:
What’s your favorite way to say thanks? Post yours in the comments below.
So to conclude, it is grammatically correct to use both ‘thank you both’ and ‘thanks to both of you’ in a number of contexts. It is only when expressing ‘on account of; due to; because of’ that you would only be able to use ‘thanks to both of you’, and not ‘thank you both’.
We hope that you feel more confident now in having the freedom to use both terms more or less interchangeably, and knowing which context to use them in.
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