I've often heard this pattern, particularly in things like

メッセージ/メール  ありがとうございます。

Since ありがとうございます is an adjective, why is it acceptable to use in this situation? That seems about as grammatically correct as saying something like 雪を寒いです.

Is there some kind of underlying grammatical-correctness to this, or is this just something that was misused and then became acceptable over time?

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    ありがとうございます is an adjective?? – user1016 May 13 '12 at 22:41
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    「ござる」 is a verb. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 13 '12 at 22:54
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    ありがとうございます originates from a polite form of ありがたい, just like (rare) 寒うございます. But not all of the current usage of ありがとう(ございます) necessarily come from the origin of the phrase. I cannot explain why it is を instead of any other particle. – Tsuyoshi Ito May 13 '12 at 23:15
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    Ah, yes... ありがたい (in ありがたいです) is an adjective... so you say ~~はありがたいです, but not ~~をありがたいです... Maybe ありがとうございます is something similar to ありがたく思います?? – user1016 May 13 '12 at 23:15
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    @Chocolate: Isn't ありがとうございます just a "keigo" adjective as we talked about here? japanese.stackexchange.com/q/765/78 – istrasci May 13 '12 at 23:22

I think your example is simply omitting a word (a proper verb after を, that is).

メッセージ/メール を (くれて) ありがとうございます。

Which would mean this is basically like saying:

メッセージ/メール を くれて うれしいです。

...ありがとうございます being essentially equivalent to ありがとうです. Of course, normally you don't say メッセージ/メール を うれしいです。, omitting the verb, but I think ありがとう is just so common that it might have become an exception.

  • So far the elision of a verb like くれて is the most compelling argument, but do you (or anyone) have a source to back it up ? I couldn't find anything else discussing this issue myself :( It'd be very nice to get it confirmed. – desseim Oct 10 '17 at 13:38

ありがとう is the shortened form of




ありがとうございます actually consists of two words ありがとう and ございます. Perhaps you think it's an adjective because ありがたい is an adjective. However, ありがとう comes from ありがたく. It might be easier to understand in this form: ~を(ありがとう)存じます. As you can see the を is there because of the verb 存じます.

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    This explanation works for ありがたく存じます, but it doesn't work for ありがとうございます, and I don't agree that they're interchangeable. 存じます is roughly equivalent to 知る or 思う, so it's "allowed" to take a direct object marked with を; but ございます is roughly equivalent to ある, which isn't "allowed" to do that. – Matt May 13 '12 at 23:59
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    @Matt: While you make a good point, keep in mind the shortened for ありがとう can mean both, and since in modern times ありがとうございます simply is a polite form for ありがとう, it would naturally fit that を can be used even if the original meaning of ございます is technically not allowed to do that. – Jesse Good May 14 '12 at 0:26
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    I see where you're coming from, but I think the proposal is just too convoluted: "ありがとうございます is basically just a polite form of ありがとう, and this is just a short form of ありがたく存じます". On the other hand, I am okay with a model where ありがとう(ございます) has become able to take a direct object due to interference from ありがたく存じます. But this is different from saying that ございます is somehow a surface form of 存じます. – Matt May 14 '12 at 1:20
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    @Matt: Actually, the way you explained it in your comment was what I intended. However, I guess my explanation didn't come out that way... – Jesse Good May 14 '12 at 2:01

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