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In my school and university I was taught to say "Not at all" or "Don't mention it" in response to "Thank you!". Now I rarely hear these phrases used, but rather something like "You're welcome", "It's OK", "My pleasure", or "No problem".

My real life conversation experience is very poor. I often listen to some English learning podcasts, and watch some films in English. So I listen to dialogs, which are probably not from the modern real life world.

How do native English speakers tend to respond to "Thank you!" now? What I should care about, when choosing from the available options?

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Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1265/… That question is more specific than this, but its answers are relevant for this too. –  Jonik Sep 4 '10 at 11:10
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For providing an example of a good, basic question: Thank you. –  Neil Fein Sep 4 '10 at 15:05
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@rem, you mention that you "watch some films in English. So I listen to dialogs, which are probably not from modern real life world". Don't discount the influence of entertainment on everyday language usage. ;) –  Chris Noe Sep 4 '10 at 21:22
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An HR rep came to our office to give us the etiquette of email, and her response to this quesiton was to not reply with anything at all if someone sent an email saying "thank you", as it would create clutter in peoples' inboxes. –  OghmaOsiris Jun 23 '11 at 15:08
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As an aside, I think the reason 'Not at all' and 'Don't mention it' were suggested as responses is because they are closer to the literal meanings of those same responses in other languages (c.f. 'de nada' in Spanish, 'de rien' in French, perhaps most accurately translated as 'of nothing' in English). 'You're welcome' and 'no problem' are the most common responses I've heard in Canada, which are more awkward constructions in other languages when directly translated (although there is 'pas de problème' in French, and 'bitte' in German.). –  Hannele Nov 24 '11 at 22:56

16 Answers 16

up vote 44 down vote accepted

In common conversation in the US Midwest I rarely hear "Not at all" or "Don't mention it." "No problem" is very common, and "You're welcome" is also pretty well-used.

My personal usage:

I use "Not at all," "Don't mention it," and "No problem" when the activity I'm being thanked for was really no big deal. I use "My pleasure" when emphasizing that I'm happy to be of assistance (often in a customer service context), and "You're welcome" when the action prompting the thanks was a little bit of a bother. In essence I use different phrases to indicate how "thanks-worthy" the activity was.

That's probably not common usage, though.

EDIT

I think I misrepresented what I originally meant, so here's a little clarification.

If someone thanks me for something I always do (for instance I always cook dinner in our house) then I would say "No problem" or "My pleasure" depending on context. If I did a chore that was someone else's responsibility, I would say "You're welcome" even if I was happy to have done it, because it took an extra effort on my part, not because it was a "bother."

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I know a person living in United States of America, and in 10 years she always replied with you are welcome, but not because I was bothering her. –  kiamlaluno Sep 4 '10 at 11:33
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@kiamlaluno - While I cannot speak for everyone in the US, I will tend to use more formal language when speaking to non-native speakers of English. Perhaps the person you know does the same? –  ssakl Sep 4 '10 at 12:54
    
@ssakl: The point is that if she would use you are welcome to mean that I was bothering her, then she should have never said you are welcome. What I meant is that I agree with cori when he says that what he reported is not common usage. –  kiamlaluno Sep 4 '10 at 13:02
    
@kiamlaluno - Thank you for the clarification. I misunderstood your original comment. –  ssakl Sep 4 '10 at 13:20
    
I think I misrepresented what I originally meant - I didn't mean so much "bothering" as much as that the action took some additional effort on my part. Edited above to clarify. But yes, probably very specific to me... –  cori Sep 5 '10 at 12:28

I don't think you'll have any issues with any of these replies in normal conversation, so I wouldn't let it concern you. There is a relatively new study that claims people who say things such as "no problem" in reply to "thank you," are essentially saying that the thanker's issue was somehow beneath the responder, but I doubt if anyone actually feels like that. It's all a big to-do about nothing, really.

If someone thanks you, just be sincere about it--show that you appreciate their acknowledgement of whatever it is that you have done for them in whatever fashion you find comfortable. Heck, use Spanish; say, "de nada."

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+1 for being pragmatic. Sincerity and e.g. a smile will matter much more than what exact words you utter in such a situation. –  Jonik Sep 4 '10 at 14:30

How native English speakers tend to respond to "Thank you!" now? What I should care about, when choosing from the available options?

In a shop, if the assistant says "thank you", I usually say "thank you" back to them. Another thing is that quite a lot of the time it isn't necessary to reply to "thank you" with any particular "response" phrase. For example in a dialogue like this:

A: Here's your key.

B: Thank you.

A: See you next week.

there isn't really any need to say any set phrase after the "thank you". I think in normal English discourse we often don't reply to "thank you" in any special way. (I don't have any statistics about this, but that is my strong impression.)

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Why is it unnecessary to reply to "thank you"? Not on a grammar level, but a manners level. –  kajaco Sep 4 '10 at 14:44
    
@kajaco: that's a good question, I think the phrasing of the answer is not ideal there. –  delete Sep 4 '10 at 14:50
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When omitting a reply to "thank you", I've seen people smile instead of saying something, essentially responding non-verbally. Not responding in any way seems somewhat rude to me. –  Neil Fein Sep 4 '10 at 15:08
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@Neil Fein: not responding in any way to what someone else says is usually considered rude whether they have said "thank you" or anything else. –  delete Sep 4 '10 at 15:11
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@NeilFein I assume "See you next week" would be said with a smile in the example dialogue above. –  Chan-Ho Suh Aug 18 '12 at 17:03

The best option is still "you're welcome", and Wiktionary defines it as:

1907 (as reply to “thank you”).

If you're not satisfied, there is the alternative of "My pleasure", which is my personal favourite.

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+1 for the quote –  pir abdul wakeel Jun 23 '11 at 10:21
    
but if i reply only welcome, so –  pir abdul wakeel Jun 23 '11 at 10:23
    
These are only the most formal replies though. ("You're welcome" can work for formal and informal situations.) In British English, I very commonly use "No prob(lem)" or "No worries". If you're trying to be particularly self-effacing, "It was nothing" can also work. –  Noldorin Jun 24 '11 at 1:27
    
No one in the UK says "you're welcome" unless they're trying to annoy everyone by sounding american –  adolf garlic Feb 6 '13 at 9:46
    
What does etymology 1907 mean? –  Pacerier Dec 23 '13 at 17:05

"You're welcome" was taught to me in school (NW America) as polite, but "no problem" and "don't mention it" are common between friends. My tech support guy always texts " np" after I thank him for fixing my computer at work. It seems self-effacing and generous to me.

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When I first started travelling on business to the US (from Canada), I felt a little miffed that my "Thankyou"s were not being acknowledged. Not with "you're welcome", not with "happy to" or "no trouble at all" or even "no problem". Never mind a "thank YOU" response. Then I noticed that, almost all the time, there was a little "uh-huh". At first that irritated me more, and then I developed a mental translation between "uh-huh" and "you're welcome" and my business trips became less stressful.

I don't think anyone will find you odd if you say "you're welcome" to each thankyou. Don't draw any conclusions about people (their mood, whether they are polite, whether they were raised well, their opinion of your gratitude for their act) by what they say to your thankyous. It varies wildly.

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Thanks for the very good answer, Kate! +1 –  rem Jun 3 '11 at 14:40
    
you're very welcome! –  Kate Gregory Jun 3 '11 at 14:45
    
"uh-huh" esp. Am. syn. "you're welcome" [c.2011] :) –  Kris Jan 4 '12 at 9:14
    
I have a suspicion you are saying "thank you" too profusely (as compared to Americans). If you thank Americans in situations where they aren't necessarily expecting thanks, you will get an "uh-huh". Such situations include holding doors open. –  Chan-Ho Suh Aug 18 '12 at 17:08
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@Chan-HoSuh: I don't think you can claim there is an American standard of how frequently to say "thank you". In my experience, it varies as dramatically by region as it does across the Canada-US border. –  Sam Lisi Sep 7 '12 at 10:44

No worries is very common in Australia.

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My most common response are "Certainly" and "My pleasure" but I sometimes use the less formal "De nada" (I grew up in an area with strong Hispanic roots...), "Sure", "No problem" and of course "You're welcome".

Those you suggest are not in my production vocabulary, but I would find them perfectly acceptable.

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“My privilege” strikes me as more elegant than “My pleasure”. –  jwpat7 Dec 27 '12 at 18:47

The only one that is fairly standard is "You're welcome" the others, in my opinion, are just variants of the same sentiment. That is, it is customary to demur somewhat and make it as if the thing you are being thanked for wasn't worthy of the thanks. It's weird, but who knows where these things get started?

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This depends on your professional setting, but to keep reasonably friendly, often I will simply reply:

No worries.

Or,

Any time.

Or, both:

No worries. Any time.

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Some other straightforward, professional (possibly terse) options not already mentioned:

Certainly.

Or,

Of course.

Or, already mentioned in longer form, but sometimes shortened to this:

Happy to.

I think that all of these might be more likely to be spoken than written, however.

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In that vein, "sure" or "sure thing". –  Chan-Ho Suh Aug 18 '12 at 17:14

"You're welcome" is the only correct response to "Thank you" in American English as far as I'm concerned. It grates on my nerves to have someone respond to me using "no problem".

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What's the problem with "no problem"? –  b.roth Sep 4 '10 at 17:28
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@Bruno: I perceive it as dismissive and diminishing. When I say "thank you" it's sincere. To me "you're welcome" carries a matching sincerity. If I thought something someone did was "no problem" I might not even say "thank you". –  Dennis Williamson Sep 4 '10 at 18:03
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do you always take the idioms of conversational formality at their literal meaning? –  nohat Sep 6 '10 at 18:48
    
@nohat: no, but that doesn't mean that they don't carry some literal meaning. –  Dennis Williamson Sep 6 '10 at 21:27
    
@Bruno Rothgiesser - See my comment to moioci's answer. I'm not willing to say "You're welcome" is the only acceptable response, but "No problem" bugs me too. –  T.E.D. Jun 3 '11 at 16:19

You're welcome!

or

Not a problem!

These are probably your most common and casual replies.

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You can use

You're welcome.

or

It was my pleasure.

or

It was nothing. I was happy to help.

There are others, but these will suffice.

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what about Most welcome? –  pir abdul wakeel Jun 23 '11 at 10:42
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@abdul You could use "You are most welcome." It has a warm yet slightly formal feel. Most welcome as a stand alone would sound a little odd, since it is not used much. And "You're most welcome" sounds a little strange too, probably because there is a slight emphasis on most that is difficult with a preceding contraction. –  KitFox Jun 23 '11 at 11:52

I have read that many in the UK find "You're welcome" grating, preferring the "Not at all" kind of response. I find "No problem" annoying, for reasons I can't quite verbalize.

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Same here with "no problem". I think the reason is that it implies that there was perhaps actually a problem there. If what I'm saying "thank you" for should in no way shape or form have actually been a problem for them (eg: Doing their job competently), then it just seems rude to get a "no problem". OTOH: If it was actually indisputably a problem for them (eg: "Thank you for doing the Heimlich on me. I almost died."), then a "no problem" would be an appropriate and thoughtful thing to say. –  T.E.D. Jun 3 '11 at 14:45
    
It's interesting and ironic that "no problem" strikes many, including me, as dismissive, because "don't mention it" or "not at all" (as well as French "pas de quoi" and Spanish "de nada") don't seem to strike anyone that way, even though they are, in literal terms, no less dismissive. –  H Stephen Straight Jan 15 '13 at 20:42

You would do same for me.

Lesson taught by Guy Kawasaki.

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Who was Guy Kawasaki? And what authority should be given his answer? –  StoneyB Nov 18 '12 at 22:23

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