Stop Saying “Thanks God” When…

Grammar pet peeves such as cope up, mails, masteral, return back, with regards to, attached (as a noun), fill up (as a verb phrase for supplying the missing information on forms), and “Hi gentlemen, or Hello, Youh,” (as salutations), that are commonly used in the workplace have been discussed in my previous posts. This time around, there is one grammar pet peeve (i.e., Thanks God) that has been shaking my Facebook newsfeed lately. Hence, the blabbermouth was once again compelled by The Originals to correct the misapprehension.

Thank God has been existing in the realms of English Language from time extending back beyond my memory and so its nonstandard counterpart, “Thanks God”. With social media in the way, the latter as well as so many other grammar pet peeves could not be more visible than ever. The bad thing is, those who are part of the so-called Generation Z (Gen Z), at least in my country, continue to be persuaded by the impetuous spread of nonstandard English. As a result, their collective English proficiency is sliding. This statement is supported by the continuing dominance of Malaysia in the English Language Proficiency Level in the Entire Asian Region (as of 06 November 2013) amid the fact that we are still the country to beat in Business English as of April “2012”. I also have a clear picture of how the Gen Z people use the universal language in the most challenging way when I was in the academe almost two years ago.

Up until now, it feels demurring to correct a colleague, even students, straightly. Thank God social media, through WordPress, is here to assertively offer a helping hand in reaching out to the concerned. (I would like to reiterate that doing this is not a way of blowing my horn. I pride myself on my knowledge of the language but I always know that I still have a million things to learn about English too. Grammar mishaps, like bad diction, of yours truly are also everywhere.)

Anyway, let us now exscind the idiom under dispute: “Thanks God”. The presence of such on Facebook, even on Twitter and Instagram, worries me much already as the younger Gen Z people are all over the place.

Guilty party, please do not clench your fist yet. Read on and make a note of this instead.

Thanks God” is not actually an error when used in the right context. That is, the vocative expression or direct address where the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence as in, “That is incorrect, John.John is the vocative expression because it indicates the party being addressed as opposed to the sentence, “That is incorrect.

Relative to the foregoing, “Thanks God” becomes correct if it is used in the same context as in, “Thanks, God.” This way, the subject idiom is a sentence which implies that you are either praying or directly conversing with God–the very case in a direct address. And, it should be punctuated.

However, “Thanks God” is grammatically unacceptable when used as an idiom for being thankful that something good happened in a bad situation or if you are relieved of something (e.g., Thanks God the weather is fine today.)—which is definitely and often the case we come across on various social networking sites most especially Facebook. So stop saying “Thanks God” when you want to express relief or thankfulness. “Thank God” is the correct expression to use as in, “Thank God the weather is fine today.

Let us have a little detour into the etymology of the idiom.

Thank God” is a shortened version of “Thanks be to God.” or “I (we) thank God.” which means you are telling others that you are thankful to God. In the same way, people would say, “Praise God!“, “Thank goodness!” or “Thank heavens!

All right. Do not be hornswoggled the next time around. What you just need to do is remove the “s” from the word “Thanks” to make it grammatically correct. I would thank God if you succumb.

 References: dictionary.com and thefreedictionary.com

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13 thoughts on “Stop Saying “Thanks God” When…

  1. Hi Sonny,   I want to ask if the trek from the jump-off point in Tirad Pass to the Shrine is an uphill climb?   I ask because I am going with my wife an 11-year old daughter.   Thank you.   Teddy Zaragoza

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  2. Sony, could it be that certain idioms, both written and spoken characterize a unique ethnic usage which may in the case of ‘Thanks God’? I have taught American Standard English to children and adults in many different settings in America and am convinced that there is no such animal. It is a misnomer. I say this because AMS is not a native or national tongue; it is not a pure language. I am glad that I don’t write or speak Shakesperan English as our British or English counterparts once did in our Mother Land. The English we speak in America, land of former and present immigrants, is beautiful with its regional, dialectical, and cultural influences. It is interesting to study linguistics and hear different people speak English and even learn our slang, idioms, contemporary and idiosyncratic speech. It has taken me a while to learn that sometimes what my Filipino friends say mean the opposite from what I thought they were saying. Here is my example: “You have gained weight, huh?!” My friend means “You are looking well!” I know this from hearing it so often when she returns from the P.I. and first sees me. I have been the same weight for years!

    Anyway, from my observations, the general trend in communication in present society is to speak and write to be understood and to adapt your speaking and writing (including choice of vocabulary) to the purpose and circumstances you find yourself in, i.e. I believe this should be our guiding rule in our relationships with all people, whether we speak or write- simplicity and strive for clarity and understanding. BTW I LOVE to hear British English spoken. My friends in Malaysia and Down Under speak it beautifully and even write their words with different spellings! Did you read my last post about where much of our language and idioms originate from? http://heulu.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-kjv-is-so-hard-to-understand-yet-you-have-used-it-almost-everyday-in-what-you-say/ O.K. Thanks, God for my friend Sony! God bless you!

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    • I completely agree with you, Shofar. The thing is, the younger generation now unconsciously spreads the nonstandard form of that expression. I know a decent number of people (friends, colleagues, students, and relatives included) in my country who really know difference between the two. So, I believe, sometimes it will make a difference if someone braves to assertively correct that misapprehension so to speak, especially now that, like I said, social media is playing a big part in the issue.

      I have just visited the post you have there and I had a good time memorizing and understanding the idioms. So far, the one that really got me is “the force be with you”. Who can forget that? And the movie (Star Wars) that popularized it. No wonder Shofar, I once read from First World Facts that the Bible (be it KJV or other versions) is still the number source of pop music’s inspiration.

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      • It’s great to exchange points of view, Sony. So happens that my husband sort of sides with you on this matter. Me, (I), desiring communication and class participation more than correct form, shared with students at the University of Pangasinan in Lingayen how to learn to recognize and use idioms correctly. In an informal seminar, it was a good time of learning! But ‘the force be with you’ is not something I was familiar with! You’re a good teacher as well as life-long learner, as my school principal would say. ~Liz

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  3. Pingback: Filipino Concoctions, Philippine English, and Standard American English | Stories of The Wandering Feet & Mind

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