How To Say 'You’re Welcome' And Respond To Merci In French
- Written byAdrien Renault
- Read time6 mins
Being courteous and remembering your manners in French is essential.
Merci is one of the first words you’ll learn in any French course, and responding to merci naturally comes next.
From our guide on saying ‘thank you’ in French, you’ll see that there are plenty of other ways to say ‘thank you’.
Similary, there are several ways to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French too.
Read on to learn what they are.
How do we say ‘you’re welcome’ in French?
Take a look at the table below to see the main ways to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French.
|De rien||You’re welcome / of nothing (lit.)|
|Avec plaisir||With pleasure|
|Je vous en prie||I beg you (formal)|
|Je t’en prie||I beg you (informal)|
|Pas de problème||No problem|
|Il n’y a pas de quoi||It’s nothing|
Saying ‘you’re welcome’ in French in formal and informal contexts
Saying ‘you’re welcome’ to a friend in French is different to saying ‘you’re welcome’ to a stranger or colleague in French.
This is similar in English, where you might say ‘no worries’ to a friend, or ‘it was not a problem’ to a stranger.
An informal context in French requires an informal register when saying ‘you’re welcome’, and a more formal context requires a more formal register.
This applies from the start of the conversation - from the moment you say hello in French.
So, in terms of saying ‘you’re welcome’ let’s take a look at each French phrase above, in our table, to see which ones you can use for each context.
When should you use de rien in French?
The phrase de rien should be used in informal situations.
This phrase is a frequently-used phrase that literally translates to English as ‘of nothing’.
It means ‘you’re welcome’.
If you wanted to add a little emphasis to de rien, you could use the following variation:
Mais de rien
Mais de rien means ‘not at all’ or - literally - ‘but of nothing’. You could add monsieur or madame to the end if you want to use it in formal situations.
There’s also another variation of de rien, which is ce n’est rien. This phrase means ‘It is nothing’.
Here is an example of de rien being used in a short dialogue:
Merci pour votre aide, j’ai vraiment apprécié.
De rien, J’ai été heureux de vous aider.
Avoid using de rien in formal meetings or with your colleagues. You have other options to choose from that are much more suited to contexts such as these.
What does avec plaisir mean and when should you use it?
The French phrase avec plaisir means ‘with pleasure’ in English.
In this sense, it doesn’t literally mean ‘you’re welcome’ - it emphasizes how pleased you were to assist someone.
You’ll commonly hear avec plaisir in southern France. In this region, it is mostly used similarly to de rien.
If you wanted to say how happy you were to give someone directions to a location after they say merci or merci beaucoup you can respond with avec plaisir.
Using je vous en prie in formal contexts in French
Je vous en prie is a very formal way to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French. You can tell this is a formal phrase because it features the formal ‘you’, which is vous in French.
It literally translates to English as ‘I beg you’.
You can see that the literal translation differs from the actual meaning.
If you are in a business meeting or speaking at a global conference, you’ll likely hear this phrase being used between colleagues.
This is one of the more suitable phrases - as opposed to de rien - for saying ‘you’re welcome’ in French.
How does je vous en prie differ from je t’en prie and when should you use it?
Now, you’ll probably notice the similarities between je vous en prie and je t’en prie.
They each contain similar words, after all. But the main difference is that je vous en prie uses the pronoun vous and je t’en prie uses the pronoun t’ or tu.
What does this difference mean? Well, whereas the vous in je vous en prie uses the formal ‘you’ je t’en prie uses the informal ‘you’.
This means you should use je vous en prie in formal situations and je t’en prie in slightly less formal circumstances.
Using pas de problème to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French
You can use pas de problème in a similar way to the English version ‘no problem’.
It shows that the favour you did for someone cost you no trouble.
Remember to use pas de problème in less formal contexts as it isn’t always appropriate in formal situations.
To put it another way, you wouldn’t hear a CEO of a business on an international conference call using this phrase.
You would probably hear it between friends.
When should you use il n’y a pas de quoi?
Il n’y a pas de quoi means ‘it’s nothing’ in English. You would typically hear it among family members and friends.
Say your brother has helped you jumpstart your car.
The conversation between you might go like this:
Merci de m’avoir aidé à redémarrer ma voiture. Je ne pouvais aller nulle part sans toi aide.
I’l n’y a pas de quoi. Je suis heureux d’aider.
The response your brother would give might alternatively include the less lengthy ‘y a pas de quoi.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use this French phrase for ‘you’re welcome’ with people who you don’t know.
You should keep it for informal dialogues.
Why should we say ‘you’re welcome’ in French?
To state the obvious, the main reason we say ‘you’re welcome’ in French is that it shows how polite you are!
French is no different to English in this respect.
Being polite isn’t just about doing someone a favour, it’s also about showing that you were pleased to do that favour.
Whether you’re helping a stranger, a work colleague or a friend, it’s important to say ‘you’re welcome’ afterwards, in all contexts.
Use these phrases to be extra polite and tell people ‘it was nothing’ in French
Now you’ve learned all the essential ways to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French, you can start using them in different contexts.
Try to match the correct phrase to the correct context.
If you’re in doubt, use de rien with friends and family and je vous en prie in business meetings.
Once you have started understanding French at a basic level, listen to natives and see how they use these phrases to say ‘you’re welcome’.
You can then model your politeness on the phrases they choose in certain contexts.
How do you like to say ‘you’re welcome’ in French?
Add your contribution and make your comment in the comments!
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In Quebec I hear “ y’a pas quoi” whenI thank someone ( as in a transaction at a shop). My husband is French canadian background and says this is a very slang expression.