Is there any difference between "That's OK." and "It's OK."

brighthope

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi guys,

Is there any difference between saying "That's OK." and "It's OK"?

For example, which is better to say, "That's OK" or "It's OK" in the cases below?

Case 1
"Oh, I'm terriblly sorry I steped on your foot"
"Don't worry, that's/it's OK."

Case 2
"I couldn't find the software you asked me to buy."
"Oh, that's/it's OK. I'll order it on line then."

Case 3
"I know you are still working but we have to leave by 2."
"That's/It's OK. Actually I'm finishing it now.'"

I just made them up but which is appropriate in each case?
(Or both are OK?) And why?

If there is a difference between the two, it would be appreciated if you could generalize the usage for each one.

Thank you!
 
  • sjheiss

    Member
    Englisch - VSA
    Hi guys,

    Is there any difference between saying "That's OK." and "It's OK"?

    For example, which is better to say, "That's OK" or "It's OK" in the cases below?

    Case 1
    "Oh, I'm terribly sorry I stepped on your foot":tick:
    "Don't worry, that's:cross:/it's ok.:tick:"

    Case 2
    "I couldn't find the software you asked me to buy."
    "Oh, that's:tick:/it's ok:cross:. I'll order it on line then."
    I would say in this situation "that's fine", or "that's alright".

    Case 3
    "I know you are still working but we have to leave by 2."
    "That's:tick:/It's ok:cross:. Actually I'm finishing it now.'"

    I just made them up but which is appropriate in each case?
    (Or both are ok?) And why?

    If there is a difference between the two, it would be appreciated if you could generalize the usage for each one.

    Thank you!
    I can't explain the difference between the 2, since I barely know what the linguistic terms mean, even though I've known English for about 11 or 12 years, depending one when I spoke my first word :cool:
    I prefer to use "ok" in lower-case characters, but I'm sure it doesn't matter.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    OK is supposed to be in capital letters, so you've got that part right, brighthope. :) (The other way to write it is "okay", which is in lower-case letters.)

    I don't think there is really any difference in the meaning or usage of "that's OK" and "it's OK".
     

    padredeocho

    Banned
    United States
    Really good question.

    I think typically they are the same.

    However, these are not the same:

    I am going to give you my opinion, and IT IS okay to disagree (in the future).
    So, if you disagree, that's fine (once you have actually disagreed, that is fine, and the disagreement has ALREADY happened).

    So, is this a big enough headache for you?
     

    brighthope

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you guys!
    From what I read your answers so far, I came up with this theory...Do you agree?
    (Well. IT IS OK if you disagree! :) )
    1:
    If you are mentioning about something which happend in the past, "That's OK" is preferable.
    2:
    If you are mentioning something which has just happened or might happen in the future, "It's OK" is preffereble.

    3:
    It does not really matter and both are basically interchangeable in most cases.

    I came up with this reading only 3 opininos here, so it might not be the same, but isn't it a good try? :)

    Thanks!
     

    brighthope

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Oops, my own theory doesn't seem to go well with case 2 (sjhiess's choice is "that's OK" and the event is happening right now or in the future...).

    Maybe it is not a big deal and I don't have to care about the difference so much.;)

    However, the reason why I asked this is that my girlfriend is a native English speaker and she sometimes corrects my English. But she usually can't say why it is wrong and this is a typical example.

    This difference has been bothering me because she sometimes corrects it when I say "That's OK" and tells me to say "It's OK." and vice versa.

    But if I ask about the difference without any context, she says "Both are the same." Then I tell her, something like, "You told me to use "That's OK." in such and such situation yeasterday." and she says something like "Well, I don't know...in that case "that's OK." sounds better (or sounds right)...." or something like that...Ah... :confused:
     

    vicky1027

    Senior Member
    usa english
    It's a really subtle difference and I think both are pretty much interchangeable. The only thing I can think of is "it's okay" tends to be used when a mistake is made.
    "I'm sorry I stepped on your foot"...It's okay (don't worry about it)
    "I couldn't find the software you wanted me to buy"...That's ok (you tried)

    But honestly, I don't think anyone would think twice about whichever version you use
     

    brighthope

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi vicky1027,
    Thanks for your reply.

    Now that you mentioned it, I think you are right from my own experience too.
    I think I hear a lot more of "It's OK" than That's OK when a small mistake is made and the person who made a mistake says "I'm sorry." or "Excuse me."

    But...how about this case?
    (I know I'm "splitting hairs" though. :))

    "Sorry, I bought software B instead of software A by mistake."
    "That's/It's OK. Software B can do too."

    In this case, it is a mistake but the person tried too!

    Again, sorry for "spliting hairs".
    (I do understand it is a subtle difference and I don't have to care so much about it,
    but I just got very interested.)


    Thanks!
     

    padredeocho

    Banned
    United States
    I guess it just comes down to breaking down what "it is" means and what "that" means. And that discussion could be quite a doozie. :)

    Wow, it's a real doozie!
    Wow, that's a real doozie.
     

    losvedir

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Hi guys,

    Is there any difference between saying "That's OK." and "It's OK"?

    For example, which is better to say, "That's OK" or "It's OK" in the cases below?

    Case 1
    "Oh, I'm terriblly sorry I steped on your foot"
    "Don't worry, that's/it's OK."

    Case 2
    "I couldn't find the software you asked me to buy."
    "Oh, that's/it's OK. I'll order it on line then."

    Case 3
    "I know you are still working but we have to leave by 2."
    "That's/It's OK. Actually I'm finishing it now.'"

    I just made them up but which is appropriate in each case?
    (Or both are OK?) And why?

    If there is a difference between the two, it would be appreciated if you could generalize the usage for each one.

    Thank you!
    Completely interchangeable for me, in general.

    However, in your first case depending on how you say it, the word "it" could be a pronoun for your foot. So: "Don't worry, it's okay" could mean "Don't worry, my foot is uninjured."

    But in general the expressions mean the same thing for me.
     

    zentinel

    Member
    Italian
    In "Don't worry, that's/it's OK.",

    "That's okay" means that the situation, or what was done, is okay/forgiving to the victim, and "it's okay" means that the foot specifically is okay/unhurt, am I correct?

    Both sound right to me.
     

    vicky1027

    Senior Member
    usa english
    But...how about this case?
    (I know I'm "splitting hairs" though. :))

    "Sorry, I bought software B instead of software A by mistake."
    "That's/It's OK. Software B can do too."

    In this case, it is a mistake but the person tried too!

    Again, sorry for "spliting hairs".
    (I do understand it is a subtle difference and I don't have to care so much about it,
    but I just got very interested.)


    Thanks!
    You are splitting hairs!;)
    In this case I would say "That's okay"...(you tried!)

    But again...either one would work.

    (I had to go back and read exactly what I wrote) Stop trying to confuse "native speakers"!:D
     

    reveur78

    Senior Member
    Italy, Italian
    In "Don't worry, that's/it's OK.",

    "That's okay" means that the situation, or what was done, is okay/forgiving to the victim, and "it's okay" means that the foot specifically is okay/unhurt, am I correct?

    Both sound right to me.
    I don't think so. If someone says "it's ok" after somebody stepped on their foot, I'm pretty sure most of the times they mean "don't worry about it".
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It seems to me that the difference between “That’s OK” and “It’s OK”, though slight, can sometimes be important. The two expressions are not always interchangeable.

    That is a demonstrative pronoun, and refers to a specific thing. It is an impersonal pronoun, and refers to the circumstance. Examples:

    “I’m sorry, I just trod on your foot.”
    —“That (which you’ve just done) is OK.” (You didn’t mean it.)
    —“That (which you’re apologising for) is OK.” (You’re forgiven.)

    —“It (your action) is OK.” (It doesn’t hurt.)
    —“It (your apology) is OK.” (It’s not necessary.)

    I think, too, that “That’s OK” tends to close the subject, whereas “It’s OK” seems to be an opener for further comment (whether spoken or not).

    “I’m afraid I forgot the shopping.”
    —“That’s OK.” (It wasn’t important full stop)

    —“It’s OK (I can get it myself, later).”
     
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