Questions are a valuable part of the English language. A helpful, thoughtful question can help clarify communication between two or more people, show interest in a subject, or help build better relationships. As such, you may want to thank someone for a well-placed question. So, is it correct to say “thanks for asking”?
Yes, it is correct to say “Thanks for asking.” This is an interjectory phrase that stands as a minor sentence. You can use it to thank somebody for asking a question or request at the proper time. “Thanks for asking” is an informal phrase in casual and passing conversations.
Below, we’ll help you understand how to correctly use the phrase “thanks for asking” in daily conversation.
What Does “Thanks for Asking” Mean?
“Thanks for asking” means you appreciate someone asking you a question, making a request, or inviting you to do something.
“Thanks” is an exclamation and a shortened version of the phrase “thank you” (source). We use the term “thank you” to show gratitude because someone has “given you something or done something for you” (source).
“For” is a preposition that you use as a “function word to indicate the object or recipient of a perception, desire, or activity” (source). In this case, “for” indicates that the object of your gratitude is “asking,” or rather what “asking” refers to.
“Asking” is a form of the verb “to ask.” This has several meanings, including trying to gather information, letting someone know that you want something, or inviting a person to do something (source).
How Do You Use “Thanks for Asking”?
You can use “thanks for asking” to express gratitude for a specific question or request. However, the tone of the phrase can impact how it is perceived. Depending on how the term is delivered, this phrase can be a joyous exclamation or a more severe expression.
You can use the phrase “thanks for asking” as an exclamation or interjection. This, along with the brevity of the phrase, can often give this minor sentence an exclamatory or interjectory tone.
To communicate this statement as an exclamation in writing, you will often pair it with an exclamation point. For example, in most cases, pairing “thanks for asking” with an exclamation point will communicate the phrase in a positive tone.
However, you can also deliver “thanks for asking” in a serious or neutral tone. By tone, we mean the tone of your voice while speaking or the overall style of written correspondence.
The word “asking” is a gerund. Though the root of a gerund is a verb, it acts as a noun (source). You can see that “asking” is a noun by replacing it with other words that would communicate the same message:
- Thanks for the question!
- Thanks for the request!
- Thanks for the invite!
Minor Sentence Grammar
While “thanks for asking” may not seem like a complete sentence, it is grammatically correct. This common phrase is a minor sentence you can use to convey a complete thought, even without the structure of a full sentence.
“Thanks for asking” is missing specific components of a complete sentence, including a prominent subject and verb. You could expand “Thanks for asking” to “I thank you for asking.” This would allow you to display the subject and verb you imply with “thanks.”
However, the subject and verb are not necessary to communicate the meaning of the phrase because you can understand the whole meaning based on the surrounding context.
You can quickly insert the brief phrase “thanks for asking” into a conversation to show emotion casually (in this case, gratitude). This is why we consider this phrase an interjectory minor sentence.
When Can You Use “Thanks for Asking”?
You will use “thanks for asking” in an active conversation via written or verbal communication. Although you will use it in the present, you can use the phrase to refer to things in the past or present.
You can use “thanks for asking” in the present tense to refer to a question from the past. For example:
- Thanks for asking about the luncheon in our meeting yesterday; I forgot to discuss it.
You can also use this phrase in the present tense to refer to a question in the current conversation. For example:
- Person A: “Did you enjoy your time off for your birthday last week?”
- Person B: “Yes, it was very relaxing; thanks for asking!”
- Person A: “Would you like to go to lunch with us today?”
- Person B: “I already have other plans, but thanks for asking!”
You cannot use the phrase “thanks for asking” to refer to things in the future because it must refer to a question or request that has already happened.
The only exception to this rule is to use the phrase sarcastically. In this case, you would use “thanks for asking” to refer to a hypothetical question someone never asked or a request someone has not made to indicate that they should have done so. Here’s an example:
- Person A: “I had a great dinner with Ashley yesterday!”
- Person B: “Well, thanks for asking if I wanted to go to dinner.”
In What Context Can You Use “Thanks for Asking”?
You should generally expect to use “thanks for asking” in a more casual setting. However, you can use it appropriately in writing and conversation, though it is better suited to dialogue in most cases.
This phrase is best for casual settings because while you can use minor sentences in formal speech, abbreviations like the word “thanks” are usually most appropriate in a more relaxed or informal environment.
Due to the nature of the phrase, you will see it most often in a dialogue between two people, in which Person A asks a question or makes a request, and then Person B uses the phrase “thanks for asking” in response. Here’s another example of this:
- Person A: “Do you have time to help me with this math problem, or are you too busy?”
- Person B: “I’m not too busy; I’d love to help! But thanks for asking first!”
In addition, this phrase makes the most sense when the question or request makes you feel appreciated or when you want to express gratitude for the other person’s display of interest in a particular subject.
For example, the question, “Do you want to join us for lunch?” might make you feel appreciated. So, the following answers would be appropriate:
- Yes, I’d love to. Thanks for asking!
- I’m sorry, I can’t go today. But thanks for asking!
Using “Thanks for Asking” in a Full Sentence
While you can technically use “thanks for asking” on its own as a full sentence, this phrase often requires a more complete response within the context of the conversation. So, typically, you will respond with “thanks for asking,” as well as your answer to the question or request.
You can use “thanks for asking” within a longer sentence to provide more context. It is beneficial to bring up the context of a past event, so your listener understands what you are talking about.
- Thanks for asking me to help you with that project last week. I learned so much!
You can also use “thanks for asking” in a longer sentence to accompany the answer to the question. This can add a tone of politeness to the response.
- Person A: “I see you didn’t bring lunch today. Would you like the other half of mine?”
- Person B: “No, I am not hungry right now, but thanks for asking!”
As shown above, you can separate “thanks for asking” with a comma to indicate a separate clause or group it into the same clause with the rest of the sentence.
When Not to Use “Thanks for Asking”
There are several instances where you should not use the phrase “thanks for asking.” For example, you should not use it in formal speech or writing, such as professional email correspondence or Q&A during a public speaking engagement.
Using the phrase might also be redundant when the person already knows why you are expressing gratitude.
Another case in which you should not use this phrase is when you are showing gratitude for more than one thing. Here’s an instance where this is true:
- Person A: “I love your necklace; where did you get it?”
- Person B: “Thanks! I got it online.”
In this case, you are thanking the person for the compliment and asking a question, so a more general expression of gratitude like “thanks” is more appropriate.
Lastly, as with a rhetorical question, you should not use it when the question requires a concise answer or even none at all. For example, “thanks for asking” does not work in the following dialogues:
- Person A: “Can you take the trash out, please?”
- Person B: “Yes, thanks for asking!”
- Person A: “Can I order a small latte, please?”
- Person B: “Sure, thanks for asking.”
What Can You Use Instead of “Thanks for Asking”?
If you are seeking a formal or simpler expression of gratitude, there are better options than “thanks for asking.”
If a person already knows what they are being thanked for, you may not need to use a specific phrase like “thanks for asking.” Instead, a simple “thanks” or “thank you” may suffice.
If you prefer adding more emotion to your appreciation, you can add more detail. The options below are great options for specific contexts.
- Thanks a lot!
- Thank you so much!
- Many thanks.
In cases where someone has added you to their network on a social media platform, you can say, “Thanks for the Add.” However, this term is not equivalent to “Thanks for asking.” Read more about that in Is It Correct to Say “Thanks for the Add”?
If you are looking for a more formal version of “thanks for asking,” here are some options to consider.
- Thank you for asking.
- Thank you for your question.
- I appreciate your consideration.
- I appreciate your request.
- Thank you for your inquiry.
The last phrase in this list works well in writing, such as a professional email reply.
Expressions of Gratitude as Interjections
In English, expressing gratitude in short, passing phrases is very common. So, expressions of gratitude that act as interjections are helpful for fluency.
Interjections are parts of the English language that we commonly use to express brief thoughts and emotions in everyday speech. They are words and phrases that you can “interject” between sentences and ideas.
Here are some examples of interjections that express emotion:
Likewise, you can quickly insert a brief phrase like “thanks for asking” into the conversation to express gratitude and appreciation simply. Although more subtle, using an interjection in this manner still expresses emotion.
You can also add interjections to conversation to show politeness, which we discuss in more detail in the article, “Is It Correct to Say “Apologies”?”
Here are some other examples of interjections that are also expressions of gratitude:
- Thank you!
- Appreciate it/you!
- Much appreciated!
- You are the best!
A minor sentence looks and acts like a complete sentence but does not contain all of the components of a complete sentence (source). These sentences are especially common in conversation, especially in informal and casual speech.
In English, it can sound awkward to communicate in long and perfectly constructed sentences, especially in casual settings. Instead, minor sentences express your thoughts in fewer words, making your communication more efficient and effective (source).
Here are some other examples of common minor sentences that you might use in everyday conversation:
- How’s it going?
- No problem.
- You’re welcome!
- Happy to help.
- Got it!
- Best Wishes!
To learn more about the last typical minor sentence on this list, check out the article, “Is It Correct to Say “Best Wishes”?
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
In general, the English language sounds more natural when you can adequately and appropriately express thoughts in fewer words. Minor sentences like “thanks for asking” can help achieve this.
“Thanks for asking” is an expression of gratitude that can act as a minor sentence, and/or an interjection. This phrase works well in casual settings, whether in speech or writing and communicates gratitude for a question or request.
You can use this phrase to express politeness or concisely show appreciation. Mastering the use of “thanks for asking” is helpful in social settings and dialogues.