• 3-minute read
  • 27th April 2019

Vocabulary Tips: Is ‘Thank You’ One Word or Two?

People often thank us for our proofreading. But even gratitude can cause spelling problems! In particular, it can be tricky to know whether to write thank you, thankyou or even thank-you.

So, is ‘thank you’ one word or two? Check out our guide to find out.

Thank You as Two Words

As a verb phrase, ‘thank you’ is always two words. Or to put it another way, you should always use two words for the act of thanking someone:

Thank you for walking my dog.

We can also use this term as a noun (i.e. something given as thanks):

I’ll send your mum some flowers as a thank you.

Or we can use it as an adjective to modify another noun:

I received a thank you note in the post today.

So no matter how you are using ‘thank you’, you can write it as two words.

Thankyou as One Word

Until recently, writing ‘thankyou’ as a single word was generally considered an error. And some people still don’t like it! But the single-word version of this term is more common now than it used to be, especially as a noun or an adjective. For instance:

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I’ll send your mum some flowers as a thankyou.

I received a thankyou note in the post today.

Alternatively, some people hyphenate ‘thank-you’ when using it as a noun or adjective. So we could rewrite the examples above as follows:

I’ll send your mum some flowers as a thank-you.

I received a thank-you note in the post today.

However, you cannot use these versions of the term as a verb. And you should not write ‘thankyou’ or ‘thank-you’ at all in formal writing unless you’re sure your style guide permits it.

Summary: Is Thank You One Word or Two?

In Australian English, we almost always write ‘thank you’ as two words. This applies whether you use it as a verb phrase, a noun or an adjective. However, other versions are gaining acceptance.

How you write ‘thank you’ may thus depend on how you use it:

  • As a verb phrase, always use two words (e.g. Thank you for your time).
  • As a noun or an adjective, you can write it as two words, as a single word, or with a hyphen. However, some still consider writing it as a single word incorrect, so use two words in formal writing.

And if you’d like someone to check your writing, get in touch with Proofed.

Comments (10)
9th July 2020 at 17:28
I would always advise my students - when in doubt, write the phrase as two words. Personally, I would never write it as a single word or hyphenated. Keep it simple.
    10th July 2020 at 10:27
    Hi, Neil. Thanks for the comment. We do mention that the two-word version is most common in the post, but use of the single-word 'thankyou' is growing and you'll find it in some dictionaries.
25th November 2020 at 10:19
50 year old Australian here. I am so confused now! All my life I have been writing it as "thankyou" as that is what we were taught. Only recently have started to see it written as two words, and couldn't understand why. Have I been wrong all these decades?!! :-(
    25th November 2020 at 10:59
    Hi, James. Most traditional style guides have preferred 'thank you', and even now 'thankyou' is only standardly used as a noun or adjective. However, people have undoubtedly been using 'thankyou' for decades, so it wouldn't be unusual to have seen it before recently! And as long as you can get your meaning across, the distinction isn't too important. But, yes, technically it should be two words when expressing gratitude, and it's best to use this form in formal writing.
1st February 2021 at 08:47
"Thank you" so much for the response! I'm really glad I know now, and just have to remember to break it up into two words after a lifetime of getting it wrong! I wonder why we were taught it that way - and never got picked up on it. Never to late to learn - so thank you again! :)
3rd July 2021 at 02:11
Thank you James. I was also taught thank you was one word. I am 70 years of age and starting to think I was losing my marbles. I also researched potato and tomato spelling as I was sure I was taught each was spelt with and ‘e’ at the end. Apparently I am wrong.
    9th August 2021 at 02:06
    I was taught thankyou is one word and I still think it's correct. Thankyou sounds like a full proper word to use when thanking someone. When it's separated it doesn't sound right when trying to say it. It sounds like there's a letter missing from 'thank'. Maybe ''I would like to thank you for ….." sounds okay. The emphasis is on "you". Potato and tomato - I add an e when adding an 's' to make it a plural.
      9th August 2021 at 09:37
      Hi, Susan. As noted in this post (and as major dictionaries should show), the one-word form (usually hyphenated) is only typically used as a noun, so if you're referring to the action of thanking someone, it should be two words. You can also see the relative usages of different forms in published writing using Google's Ngrams tool. Here, for instance, you can see that 'thank you' is by far the most common form: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=thank+you%2Cthankyou%2Cthank-you&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cthank%20you%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cthankyou%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cthank%20-%20you%3B%2Cc0
Gail Birmingham
4th May 2022 at 23:33
I also was taught "thankyou" as one word. With the introduction of computers and social media especially, it seems that "thankyou" has been split into two words.
    5th May 2022 at 09:51
    Hi, Gail. While there have always been some people who have written 'thank you' as a single word, the two-word form has been the most common for centuries. You can see the relative usages of both spellings using Google's Ngram tool here, which shows that, while the gap has widened in the last century or so, it has always been there: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=thankyou%2Cthank+you&year_start=1600&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3#

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