Thank You for Your Understanding

Last week I was working in Luxemburg and vacationing in London. A cross-cultural translation that made me smile appeared on a sign outside my Luxemburg hotel. The sign had to do with visitors needing to ring a bell to be let into the hotel after a certain time at night. The final sentence on the sign read:

Thank you for your comprehension.

I did comprehend, and I rang the bell.

Lynn
Syntax Training

33 COMMENTS

  1. I was born and raised in the Midwest, but I lived in Paris for two years so I know it is common to say “Merci de votre compr√©hension” in French. Since I am used to seeing that sentence, the cross-cultural translation you mentioned doesn’t sound that strange to me! It’s frightening how these things sink in and erode my ability to judge the quality of a sentence written in my native language.

  2. Hi, Lindsey. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is a good reminder of the challenges of people who speak across languages. I have heard Spanish speakers say “The window gives to the avenue.” The words are perfect in Spanish, but in English they confuse us.

    Lynn

  3. Hello Lynn. For spanish speakers “thank you for your comprehension” sounds natural.

    “comprehension” sounds like “comprensi√≥n” in spanish, that means kind of “understanding” in english.

    Kind regards.

  4. I’m still getting caught up on Lynn’s blog entries that I missed while on an unexpected, extended medical leave, so pardon my delayed response.

    I love the nuances of language. With that explained, I interpret(comprehend, if you will) “comprehension” and “understanding” differently with agreement (sort of) from Merriam-Webster. Comprehension is an act or action of grasping with intellect. Understanding is sympathetic comprehension, so understanding can be both an intellectual and emotional response. “Thank you for your comprehension” I interpreted as “You need the ring the bell if you want to get in.” “Thank you for your understanding” I interpreted as “You need to ring the bell if you want to get in, and we appreciate your patience for having to do so.”

  5. It is natural for Portuguese speakers (I’m brazilian) too.
    “comprehension” -> “compreens√£o”
    It’s very common on signs in Brazil.

    I’m late, I know.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Elvio. I believe the writer meant “Thank you for understanding” rather than “Thank you for comprehending.” The words in English have a slightly different meaning in this context. At least I believe they do.

    Lynn

  7. Hi,
    comprehension means understanding. To comprehend a context is to understand…they are just mere synonyms. Thee use is appropriate or correct.

    com·pre·hend
    ňĆk√§mpr…ôňąhend/
    verb
    1.
    grasp mentally; understand.
    “he couldn’t comprehend her reasons for marrying Lovat”
    synonyms:understand, grasp, take in, see, apprehend, follow, make sense of, fathom, get to the bottom of; More
    2.
    formal
    include, comprise, or encompass.
    “a divine order comprehending all men”
    synonyms:comprise, include, encompass, embrace, involve, contain
    “a divine order comprehending all men”

    adebisi

  8. Hello Adebisi,

    The expression “Thank you for understanding” has a special meaning that “Thank you for your comprehension” does not convey–despite the dictionary definitions.

    Read Jennifer’s comment above for details.

    Lynn

  9. Thanks God I find this post. I am not good in English and I am writing a business letter. I would write “I thank you very much for your comprehension”. So I decided to make a search on google and I find this wonderful post.
    I dream to be fluent in English, but living in a country that does not speak English it is difficult
    Congrats for you, guys.

  10. Wonderful post this. I have recently used the abovementioned “thank you for your understanding” in an e-mail to a business contact. To me it doesn’t “feel” right to use comprehension, as this doesn’t connote the same empathy. I did wonder, however, whether or not to use Capital “Y” for you and your. To much of a good thing?

  11. Hi Lynn,
    Late feedback…
    In my work, I used to be in contact with a lot of people from all around world and we use English as an exchange language, generally I am able to communicate with those people, but I can’t imagine how many mistakes I am doing all the time, including this e-mail.
    I don’t know how many times I finished my e-mails with “Thank you for your comprehension” and “thank you in advance”.
    I promise I will try to avoid this phrases from now on ;D
    Thank you very much,
    Marcos

  12. Hi there – if you are reporting speech and you say ..I thanked him and said “Merci” ..would the Merci be capitalised?

  13. Glenda, if the thank-you was in French, it would make sense to say “I thanked him by saying ‘Merci.'” Otherwise, the sentence is redundant since “Merci” is “Thank you.”

    Yes, the word would be capitalized as an expression that serves as a sentence. “The Gregg Reference Manual” says to capitalize a quoted word or the first word of a quoted phrase when it represents a complete sentence.

    Lynn

  14. What about “Thanks for understanding” and “Thanks for your understanding”?

    Both are intended to express the same meaning?

    Thanks for your this blog and forum, it¬īs amazing!

  15. Hello Nayz,

    “Thanks for understanding” means something like “Thanks for your patience” or “Thanks for your flexibility.”

    “Thanks for your understanding” is a wordy version of the same thing. I would not use it. However, you could write “I appreciate your understanding.”

    Lynn

  16. “Thanks for (something you’re assuming)” is aggressive behavior.

    “Thanks for your cooperation” when you are attempting to make the person cooperate is mean

    “Thanks for your understanding” when you are basically forcing the person to accept your choices instead of working out a mutually agreeable solution — is again: aggressive behavior.

    Does anyone have further psychological resources that would explain the type of emotional/verbal trespasses caused by such phrases?

    Best,
    dainis

  17. Hello Dainis,

    Thank you for your interesting comment. I do not agree that it’s aggressive or mean to say thank you for something you’re assuming. I believe that each situation is different and that each reader decides how to feel about such thanks.

    On the other hand, I do not like the phrase “Thank you in advance” for the reasons I mention in this blog post: http://www.businesswritingblog.com/business_writing/2009/08/thank-you-in-advance.html

    Lynn

  18. It’s interesting what Dainis just said, as in fact it was a negative feeling what brought me to this blog post. In particular, I was worried there was something wrong with me by interpreting the phrase as passive aggressive. In my case I have heard it time and again from someone who can do better than leaving things as they are (which clearly inconvenience me). How can I complain when they are being so polite? English is not my first language, by the way.

  19. Hi Adriana,

    I appreciate learning about your experience with the sentence “Thank you for understanding.” It seems that the person who writes to you is overusing it.

    Each situation is different, of course. But I wonder whether any of these sentences would be helpful to you in your response:

    “This situation is unfortunate. I would like to talk with you about how we can avoid it in the future.”

    “Unfortunately, I can’t respond positively to this request.”

    “I’m afraid this solution will not work for me and my team. Can we meet to look for other options?”

    “I do understand the situation, but it’s not workable for me. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to accommodate your request.”

    If you feel you are being taken advantage of, perhaps some of the language above can be helpful to you.

    Good luck!

    Lynn

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