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I've seen someone respond with "They're welcome" to "X says thanks" where X is another person and/or group of persons. The reply seemed okay to me, but its correctness has been immediately contested by a few others.

The fact that I cannot find instances of it being used anywhere on the web got me to doubt my initial belief, and now I'm starting to think it's some sort of rookie mistake that nobody (else) does.

There are no real arguments given by the people contesting its correctness, but I don't have any to support its correctness either. My guess is the confusion started because "You're welcome" is always translated as "Cu placere" in Romanian, which literally means "With pleasure" rather than "You're welcome (to...)". Even so, the expression still seems appropriate.

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As much as "X says thanks" is a derivation from the customary "Thank you," so is "Tell them 'You are welcome,' for me." There need be no precedent/ recorded evidence of usage for that. I'm not sure but I think the objectors were being just pedantic. – Kris Jun 21 '14 at 5:55
"They said 'thanks'." "Tell them, 'they're welcome'." It's a mildly jocular and not unusual retort. Certainly nothing to write home about. – medica Jun 21 '14 at 6:09
That's what I thought. Does the situation change if instead of "X says thanks", "X thanks you" is used? – user61243 Jun 21 '14 at 6:18
says is singular. When you talk about one person, then I think that you should say he's/she's welcome. – Archa Jun 21 '14 at 12:12
up vote 0 down vote accepted

"You're welcome" is a rather distinctive English idiom. "They're welcome" is unusual, but parallel to "he's welcome" in the singular, it's perfectly acceptable when responding to thanks by a group of persons by way of an intermediary. When responding directly, "you're welcome" is correct, as "you" is both singular and plural in English.

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