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Thank you, or something like that

I was replying to a student e-mail this morning—specifically, I was trying to thank him for responding promptly to a message I had sent him minutes before—and I again confronted a vexing question.

At first, I ended the message with the phrase "thank you." But unless I'm corresponding with someone higher on the academic prestige ladder, that phrase always seems overly formal in an e-mail, as if someone starched the collars to my golf shirts.

My second attempt was to use the word "thanks." But I think that tips too far toward informal for a message from an instructor to a student. And it's kind of flat to boot. Thanks. Yeah, whatever.

My third option, which I have been using much more lately, is "Thanks!" I cringe, though, because of the exclamation point! I think it sounds shrill! Or too overly gushy! In its own way, it's too informal! But I don't know of another way to use the word to convey pleasantry!

I hope you'll comment on this! Thanks! I'm probably obsessing over nothing, but hey, when your blood is equal parts red cells, white cells, plasma and words, you can't help it!


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 6th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
You made me snicker out loud with this one. I SO know what you mean about exclamation points. My business partner loves them! And one is rarely enough!! It's like she can barely contain herself!!! So I try to do all of our business writing in order to eliminate my need to silently cringe.

I hope you appreciate the above comment AND the following suggestion! (Hmm, I wanted to use a colon right there, but I couldn't figure out a way to make it exclamatory, too!) How about if you added a few more words to the "thanks" part to warm it up without getting too cozy: "Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate it." No exclamation point needed. Ha! Like you need me to offer writing suggestions.
Jun. 7th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
I'll take writing suggestions from whomever is willing to give them to me, and you already know what I think about your writing. So no "Ha!" needed.

But the double and triple bangers, and beyond, take "shrill" to "shriek" in a hurry.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 7th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Agreed. One a year ought to be plenty.
Jun. 7th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
I always end emails to students with "thanks." I think that email has become so casual a medium that, for an instructor-student correspondence, it holds an appropriate tone of informality while still being polite. But, I am a little closer in age to my students, and I know damn well that affects how I communicate with them.

Jun. 7th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
"But, I am a little closer in age to my students ..."

Thanks for the reminder!!!!!
Jun. 7th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
Oh, 'twas not meant to be a jab. You're like 30, right?
Jun. 7th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
I didn't take it as a jab. Just funnin'.

Jun. 7th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
I always struggle with that. I feel like I come off like an immature little girl if I use an exclamation point and a stuffy poser if I don't. I usually go with a plain "thank you" at first, and then lighten up a little depending on their response. Thanks for the post! (now I'm self-conscious about that punctuation... oh well, haha.)
Jun. 7th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
You're right: It's easier to go from formal to more casual than it is to go the other way.
Jun. 7th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
If you can't think of anything appropriate then don't act appropriately.


- pjv"


"Pay it forward,

- V-man"
Jun. 7th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
I'm likin' the Valhalla line.
Jun. 7th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
I usually start with "Thank you for....whatever..." then end with "Thanks again, Sarah."

There's a great Seinfeld episode in which a couple breaks up because the guy didn't use an exclamation point on the note he left the girl--she felt that "Myra had the baby" deserved one, he did not. Jerry then commented that it may have been the first time a relationship had ended over punctuation.

Jun. 7th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Now I'll be thinking about that Myra note all day.
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
I've never ended one over punctuation, but I've reconsidered interest based on it.
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
Considering you used the word "parse" on your résumé, I'm not surprised.
Jun. 7th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
In an email I am a "Thank you" all the way kinda girl. It may touch on stuffy. However, I know I can't be chastised for inappropriateness or make the person feel as if I don't appreciate their response.

As for exclamations, unless I would yell the statement out into a crowded room, I don't use them.
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
I agree with your use of "thank you" for occasions when I don't know the person I'm communicating with. I think the tone of the rest of the piece can establish non-stuffy-ness.
Jun. 7th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
I usually say "thank you" somewhere in the email and then end with "thanks." I'll tailor it, depending on who I'm sending the message to, but that's my standard. Personally, I agonize far more over salutations than my signature. Dear? Hi? Name only? A girl could waste all day weighing the pro's and con's. As for exclamation points, just had the following conversation with my editor:

Me: Your editorial has a lot of exclamation points in it.

Her: It's a very happy editorial.

Me: It borders on manic.

Her: Yeah, it does.

She left it the way it was. Let me go on record: I tried.
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC)
Trying to come up with a salutation can eat up a lot of time for me.

Dear makes it sound like I'm calling them dear to me, which is a bit forward in most cases. Hello/hi doesn't seem like the opening to a written communication. Just the name sort of feels incomplete, but I tend toward that one.

Stuff it. From now on, I'm just gonna open with "Sup." And I'll close with "If you don't know, now you know."
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
I like "good morning" or "good day" with the name—Good morning, Mr. DeOrdio—in mystery business communications.
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
That's all you can do: try. Either that or respond to her "Yeah, it does" comment with something like "It sounds like it was written by a high school sophomore."
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
"kkthxbye :)"

*ducks and runs*
Jun. 8th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
When you're as smart as you are, you can use whatever you want. But I can't even bring myself to type "u" in a text message! It's a horrible affliction.
Jun. 9th, 2011 09:26 am (UTC)
I usually try to maintain proper spelling while texting, unless I run up against the character limit (then creative measures are undertaken). Capitalization becomes a bit spotty, though.

Tangentially, When Parents Text can be quite entertaining - and occasionally cringeworthy XD
Jun. 9th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
"Cringeworthy" is right. Some folks just don't understand the phrase "age-appropriate behavior."
Jun. 12th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
You could always switch to "Cheers."
Jun. 12th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
Don't you have to be wearing a derby to say that?
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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