You're welcome.

ManOfWords

Senior Member
Português [Brasil]
Hi, I'd like to know why we say 'you're welcome' when somebody thanks us, I mean, if we say, 'any time', 'my pleasure' it makes much more sense doesn't it?

Imagine we give somebody an advice and the person thanks us, and we say 'you're welcome' ... ( you are welcome to/for what?) (the person is welcome for taking our advice any time we want to give it to you???) I hope I made my question clear :oops:

And, if John said that Jimmy thanked me, can I say to John that (Jimmy) he's welcome? or 'you're welcome' is a fixed expression?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    'You're welcome' is relatively recent. OED says 1960, (with a possible isolated reference from 1907), and describes it as
    3. d. you are (or you're) welcome: a polite formula used in response to an expression of thanks.

    It seems to be an extension of: (OED)
    welcome (adj.) 3. a. Freely permitted or allowed, cordially invited, (to do or to have something).
    It seems to be an extension of this use:
    1841 Dickens Old Curiosity Shop i. xxv. 229 You're very welcome to pass another night here.

    A: "Here, have another £5"
    B: "Thank you - that is very generous."
    A: "You're welcome; you did an excellent job." -> you are freely permitted or allowed, cordially invited, to have the money because you did an excellent job."
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "You're welcome" is equivalent to "Don't mention it", "My pleasure", etc. It's just a way of responding to a thank you (like saying "prego" in Italian).
     

    ManOfWords

    Senior Member
    Português [Brasil]
    A: "Here, have another £5"
    B: "Thank you - that is very generous."
    A: "You're welcome; you did an excellent job." -> you are freely permitted or allowed, cordially invited, to have the money because you did an excellent job."

    But in this case, (Imagine we give somebody an advice and the person thanks us, and we say 'you're welcome') :confused: it seems a bit odd doesn't it PaulQ?

    BTW, I thought it was a very old expression, so people in the 20s 30s would probably not use it then?!
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Not very old at all in Britain. When it first began to be used there, most people (well, most of the people I knew) regarded it as a senseless American import. I blame it on television.

    Did you realise, ManOfWords, that not all native speakers use it? I use it sometimes on the forum,but never in real life.

    Edit: I always used it in the phrase "You're welcome to it", meaning "You can have it - I don't want it."
     

    ManOfWords

    Senior Member
    Português [Brasil]
    Not very old at all in Britain. When it first began to be used there, most people (well, most of the people I knew) regarded it as a senseless American import. I blame it on television.

    Did you realise, ManOfWords, that not all native speakers use it? I use it sometimes on the forum,but never in real life.

    Edit: I always used it in the phrase "You're welcome to it", meaning "You can have it - I don't want it."
    That's interesting, now that is another reason to not (not to?:oops:) use it with natives ... :thumbsup:
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    'You're welcome' is relatively recent. OED says 1960, (with a possible isolated reference from 1907), and describes it as
    3. d. you are (or you're) welcome: a polite formula used in response to an expression of thanks.
    Rubbish and nonsense, and "isolated" my foot. This is clearly a much older expression. Note, for example, Othello, Act 4, Scene 3:

    LODOVICO
    Madam, good night. I humbly thank your ladyship.

    DESDEMONA
    Your honor is most welcome.
    I myself was certainly born before 1960, and I have heard "you're welcome" as a reply to "thank you" for my entire life; it was something people of my parents' and grandparents' generations would say without thinking twice. Here, for example, is Booth Tarkington's novel The Turmoil, from 1915:
    Good-by, and thank you", said Mary.
    "For what?"
    "For the letter."
    "Oh", he said, blankly. "You're welcome. Good-by."
    And you might look at this 1910 instruction from the United Cigar Company:
    United Shield

    If the small minority of native English speakers who live in the British Isles forgot this phrase in the same way they forgot such older terms such as "gotten" as the past participle of "get", that certainly does not mean that "you're welcome" has not been widely known and used for decades by the majority of native English speakers -- who happen to live in North America.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    I have also heard you're welcome all of my life. I was quite young in 1960 but I did hear it throughout the sixties and onward. In fact in the United States many customer service manuals and instructions tell their representatives to use you're welcome instead of many of the other possible forms that one can reply to thank you.
    From The grammar phobia blog: A reader found an earlier citation in The House by the Churchyard, an 1863 novel by the Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu: “ ‘I thank ye again, sir.’ ‘You’re welcome, my honey,’ rejoined Toole, affectionately.”] It also mentions Othello.
     
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    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I agree with Velisarius, it wasn't widely used in my youth in the UK. It has grown is use here, clearly under the influence of Americans who seem to have a familiarity with it.

    The “meaning” is its function as a politeness marker.
    If you think it’s illogical, choose something else. The equivalent purpose is served by a number of other devices. A warm smile is my usual one. “No worries” is an informal option. Or “S’okay”. More formal:
    “It’s my pleasure” or “Don’t mention it”.
    (As lingo said in #3!)

    However, I feel you could criticise any of these for some reason or other if you bring too much “logic” to politeness conventions.
    ;)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I also grew up without it and began to hear it around 1980 or so. I still never use it as an automatic response to 'Thank you'. I use many of suzi's choices - especially the warm smile. (Some people might, however, complain that 'No worries' is too Australian-sounding.)

    ADDED
    I just noticed there is a book chapter 'No problem, you’re welcome, anytime: Responding to thanks in Ireland, England and the USA' by K Schneider (in The Pragmatics of Irish English [2011], edited by A Barron and K Schneider).

    His main points are that:
    • TMs [=thanks minimisers] are used less often in English than in other languages
    • There is variation between English English (EngE)*, Irish English (IrE) and AmE:
      • EngE speakers often respond non-verbally.
      • 'You're welcome' is considered formal in EngE, whereas it isn't in AmE where it is used much more frequently; it is less common in IrE, and is least common in EngE
      • 'My pleasure' is more frequent in EngE than AmE
    *I say EngE rather than BrE because the focus was on speakers in England (not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland).
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's good to have a term for these prego-type expressions. "TM/Thanks minimiser" is useful to know.

    Thank you, nat! (Your cue to just smile.:))
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    :) (So useful to have that readily available!) Schneider's term, not mine. By the way, I use 'No worries' myself. I might also say 'No problem' or 'No probs' or 'Cheers' too.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    How do I hate "No worries"? Let me take my mittens off and count the ways. :rolleyes: "No problem" is on that same list.

    "You're welcome" is definitely more formal, but for informal, I'm likely to say, "Sure." There are other responses for different situations, of course.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But in this case, (Imagine we give somebody an advice and the person thanks us, and we say 'you're welcome') :confused: it seems a bit odd doesn't it PaulQ?
    Only because you have made "advice" a countable noun, which it never is. I cannot see that it matters what the favour/gift/object is.

    Rubbish and nonsense, and "isolated" my foot.
    I am having a little difficulty picking up on the nuance of your opinion - could you be a little clearer? :D
    I myself was certainly born before 1960, and I have heard "you're welcome" as a reply to "thank you" for my entire life;
    The OED records the written language... And you will note the definition of a formulaic reply. ;)
    This is clearly a much older expression. Note, for example, Othello, Act 4, Scene 3:
    LODOVICO: Madam, good night. I humbly thank your ladyship.
    DESDEMONA: Your honor is most welcome.
    Here, the object of "welcome" is explicit. Lodovico himself is welcome company.
    In "You're welcome" it is not, and this the difference. You're welcome = you are welcome to have <whatever it is>.
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    yes, I have the same question, that's why I prefer to use pleasure instead of you re welcome.
    I use "My pleasure" occasionally, but I made sure it's occasionally. If you use it in response to every "Thank you," it will come across as mechanical and insincere. By all means use it, but use it sparingly and meaningfully.
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    I use "My pleasure" occasionally, but I made sure it's occasionally. If you use it in response to every "Thank you," it will come across as mechanical and insincere. By all means use it, but use it sparingly and meaningfully.
    May I please ask, in what situation you would avoid saying "My pleasure" in response to "Thank you"?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    May I please ask, in what situation you would avoid saying "My pleasure" in response to "Thank you"?
    Off the top of my head, for trivial things that I've done for someone who has said "Thank you" in return. But it's all based on context, so it's difficult for me to pin down what are really ad lib replies. As for frequency, maybe once in every 50 or so acknowledgements of a "Thank you" – 2% of the time, and that includes the times I use it humorously. :)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A milder everyday response to a thank you that no one's yet mentioned is simply "That's okay!"

    EDIT: I've just seen that suzi did give it a passing mention in #10. :)
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There is variation between English English (EngE)*, Irish English (IrE) and AmE:
    • EngE speakers often respond non-verbally.
    • 'You're welcome' is considered formal in EngE, whereas it isn't in AmE where it is used much more frequently; it is less common in IrE, and is least common in EngE
    I have absolutely no problem with "You're welcome". It seems to have been around for as long as I can remember, and it makes perfect sense when taken in context as do all the other usual replies of "It's OK", "It's my pleasure", "no problem" etc. If you ask "What are they saying you're welcome to?" it's the same as asking "What's okay?" or "What's his pleasure?" or "What's no problem?". They all have to be taken in the context of the discussion in which they occur, and are simply "mirrors" of that discussion.

    You give someone £5. They say "thank you", you reply "you're welcome" meaning "you are welcome to it, I'm very pleased to let you have it".

    You open a door for someone. They say "thank you", you reply "you're welcome" meaning "you are welcome to it, I am pleased to open the door for you."

    I come from the West Country, and so perhaps regional variation is playing a part as to why I use it and others from the UK don't.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I come from the West Country, and so perhaps regional variation is playing a part as to why I use it and others from the UK don't.
    I'm from the West Country too, and like veli, I occasionally use "You're welcome" on the internet but I never use it face-to-face. (I'm of suzi and Nat's 'warm smile' persuasion.)

    So the variation here isn't regional - though it might be generational;).
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It could be a generational thing Loob. I don't know. :) I was in my teens in the 1980's and so might just have picked it up without thinking perhaps. But I did grow up in a very small village, out in the misty marshes of deepest Somerset, which was quite a backwater in life.

    My family are also probably considered quite formal, and so perhaps that's the answer*. Or it could just be that I'm a freak (in UK terms, amongst others! :cool:)

    [* I often feel I had a 1930's upbringing rather than a 1960's one. That impression grew when I visited a Museum of Rural Life in the 1980's and saw my Mum's kitchen cabinet in one of the displays! :D]
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well, I hope I'm not going to get banned or be eternally shunned by the entire WR community, if I admit that I detest "You're welcome!" and never use it, rather like me never using 'gotten', however justifiable it is in the history of the English language.
    I don't hold anything against people who do use it. I might reflect that it's a great pity if that's the sole response they're capable of. I like to vary my "polite reply" with a sensitive personalised response in the particular situation.:rolleyes:
    I don't like getting a stock, automatic, and sometimes hypocritical and meaningless, if not damn-fool, 'You're welcome!' to my eloquent, well thought-out and genuine expressions of gratitude.
    :)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have no objection to "You're welcome" but can't recall having ever said it myself.

    I think velisarius's edit in #5 should be borne in mind!
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I admit that I detest "You're welcome!" and never use it
    I can quite understand that. There are many words and phrases which annoy me, that are just "chucked in" without thinking. Three which currently goad me to distraction used endlessly by television presenters are "iconic", "back in the day" and "backstory". :)

    I like to vary my "polite reply" with a sensitive personalised response in the particular situation.:rolleyes:
    I couldn't agree more. :)
     

    Bondstreet

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    >> #11: 'You're welcome' is considered formal in EngE, whereas it isn't in AmE,
    where it is used much more frequently.
    :tick:

    >> #26: A milder everyday response to a thank you that no one's yet mentioned is simply "That's okay!"
    :tick:
    .
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    If you're going to object to "you're welcome" on the basis of logic, then "don't mention it" is worse. If taken literally, it would amount to an insulting rejection of a person's thanks. But in actual use, which is what counts, both expressions are polite responses when someone thanks you.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I watched three videos on YT where native speakers (BE, CE, AE) appealed to the learners to stop saying "you're welcome." One of them, a Canadian, said he couldn't remember when he last used that phrase! They mentioned you could perhaps hear it when thanking for a nice gift or for a favour, like someone has mowed your lawn. In all other everyday, casual situations, they said it was unnatural.

    Now, I've noticed quite a few native speakers here on the forum use that phrase, replying to 'thank you', which I believe is a casual situation. So, why such a discrepancy?
     

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    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Now, I've noticed quite a few native speakers here on the forum use that phrase, replying to 'thank you'. So, why such a discrepancy?
    It sounds as though you're laboring under the misconception that all native speakers use the same expressions all the time. :rolleyes:
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Because we are not robots programmed by some 'Correct English' god or geek to all think, prefer, and say the same things.

    Crossed with sdgraham, with whom I agree.
     

    Trochfa

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Because people making You Tube videos about language regularly need a new topic to discuss, and sometimes in my experience they make a mountain out of a molehill about not saying certain phrases. I've seen one of the ones you've listed and I thought it was rather silly and melodramatic.

    Everyone has their pet hates with regard to phrases, and then sometimes others jump on the bandwagon.

    My pet hate is overuse of the word iconic. No one seems to have noticed how this word gets used in the most ridiculous situations nowadays. However, earlier today I saw a documentary where the presenter said "I hate how the word iconic has come to be used to describe handbags, but Westminster Abbey IS truly iconic." It made me smile.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I watched three videos on YT where native speakers (BE, CE, AE) appealed to the learners to stop saying "you're welcome."
    I do not know the origins of the "welcome" image above, but I suspect that the makers of the videos have, rightly, become tired of hearing "your welcome" chanted out without any feeling or sincerity. In the UK, "Your'e welcome" became (and may still be) a clichéd and formulaic mantra.

    Businesses, particularly in the fast-food market, and "inspired" by the American model, insisted that their employees chanted certain phrases so as to give the impression of transatlantic informality and friendliness. The phrase entered BE late, and after a short period of the common parroting of it, it fell into decline as the transparency and venal insincerity shone through.

    Thus it was not the phrase itself, but the context in which it was overused and the consequent ubiquity of this vacuousness that killed it.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    It sounds as though you're laboring under the misconception that all native speakers use the same expressions all the time. :rolleyes:
    Because we are not robots programmed by some 'Correct English' god or geek to all think, prefer, and say the same things.
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    It all depends on the circumstances. "You're welcome," "Yeah," "No problem," "Go away," -- I've said all of those. I may just look at the person -- anything from the above-mentioned warm smile, with accompanying nod, to an annoyed glare. I may say "Nae problem," I may answer with the German or Spanish equivalent of "You're welcome." All sorts of possibilities....
     
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