What’s the Difference Between “Thanks” and “Thank You?”

Both thanks and thank you are common phrases in English. Both are expressions of gratitude. The question is… is there a difference between the two? Are they interchangeable?

They Are Slightly Different!

Thanks and thank you have essentially the same meaning. However, there are a few very minor differences. To put it simply, thanks is just a shortened, more informal version of thank you.


Thank you is generally considered to be slightly more polite, likely because it takes an extra syllable to say.

Additionally, there are some situations in which only “thanks” would be slightly inappropriate. For example, if someone gave you a large gift, casually saying Thanks would be received as ungrateful and unappreciative. It would be more polite to say thank you or thank you very much.

In summary:

  • Thanks is a more informal, casual phrase.
  • Thank you is a more formal, polite phrase.

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