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I was taught to use "not at all" as a rather polite, standard reply to "thank you". However, I don't see it being used at all nowadays. Can I still use it? Would it be widely understood? Should I be aware of any differences between using it in British, American, Canadian, and Australian English? (As in, are there better alternatives in any particular dialect?)

Edit: A (German) friend of mine who spent a year studying in Edinburgh says "not at all" is still fairly common there.

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As a a native still living in Edinburgh, I'd say "not at all" as often as "you're welcome". –  FordBuchanan Aug 18 '10 at 16:09
@RegDwight I'm YatharthROCK from this answer. I see you've merged it with this one. I didn't;t know there was a merge option. Is it just for ES, or is it in the SE engine? I don't see mods on SO (where I'm more active) use it a a lot. They normally just close the post and the answers on the closed post get frozen and lost... –  YatharthROCK Sep 11 '12 at 14:10
@Yat that feature is available on all SE sites, and has been for years. Check out the official blog post. "If you believe [two questions] should be merged, flag them for moderator attention and indicate what you believe the merge target should be. (Yes, merging is still a moderator only function at the moment.) If the moderator agrees, the merge will happen." –  RegDwigнt Sep 11 '12 at 14:19
@RegDwight Your mention is not completed and not stripped from my comment (as happens when posting comments that mention the owner of the post; they'll automatically notified w/o it too). So how could I notify otherwise? Would I have to find a unicode map and then paste it here? –  YatharthROCK Sep 11 '12 at 15:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'm not sure how "Not at all" sounds in response to "thank you". I guess I'd have to hear it in context. I think I would understand it.

Some alternatives which may connote the same polite dismissal might be:

Don't mention it.

No problem.

My pleasure.

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It would sound a little old fashioned or formal to me. Still usable, though. (I'm in Ireland.)

It is, of course, still the standard in French and Spanish: de rien, de nada.

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French, Spanish and also Portuguese ("de nada") –  b.roth Dec 2 '10 at 11:11

This may be overly obvious, but in American English, saying "you're welcome" is certainly polite and standard.

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Yes, but what about "not at all"? My understanding is that he's asking if "not at all" is still used. –  b.roth Aug 18 '10 at 14:55
This was in response to: "are there better alternatives in any particular dialect?" –  Kosmonaut Aug 18 '10 at 15:17

The NOAD reports that not at all is a polite response to thanks, but I have never heard it being used.
I heard no problem more frequently.

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