Unlike the use of "no problem" as an alternative to "you're welcome" or "my pleasure," neither of which bothers me much in common speech, its use as a reply to an instruction or directive to put right what the respondent has done wrong, particularly if at great expense or at substantial loss of available time, tests my patience and my temper. To my Boomer-generation ear, it says the respondent somehow feels that s/he is doing me a favor by setting things right rather than accepting responsibility for them, and somehow cannot see that a problem truly is involved. Is this a generational shift that I should get used to, or is the use of "no problem" in this context an erroneous use of this expression? (For now, at least.)

  • Please refer also to the following ELU question on the usage of 'no problem':english.stackexchange.com/questions/146671/… – user66974 May 20 '14 at 22:54
  • Arguably a stylistic error for the reasons you mention, but not more than that. – augurar May 21 '14 at 1:19
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    I understand the logical point you are making, but I think you may be attributing too much fecklessness to your respondents. Most likely, their usage conforms to the habitual formula of their peer group, with no implications of irresponsibility intended. – Erik Kowal May 21 '14 at 1:47
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    No problem is short for it is/was no problem for me to do this/that. It does not mean that there is/was no problem in general. – Anonym May 21 '14 at 3:05
  • Could you give examples of this use? I'm having trouble coming up with the context you're referring to. – Barmar May 23 '14 at 19:18

'No problem' is often just a confirmation that an instruction has been received and that there is no problem with executing said instruction. I'm of the generation that uses it in this context, but if I was being disciplined or reprimanded I wouldn't use it - I'd consider it to be too familiar in that context. Worth noting that using language that is too familiar is not the same as being intentionally unhelpful or obstructive, though.

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    Thanks for that context, Thomas. I'll understand it that way whenever possible, and will hope that that's the context in which it's offered. – Joan Pederson Jul 9 '14 at 14:10

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