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After someone says “merci beaucoup”, I would like to respond by saying something equivalent to the English phrase “no problem”. I tried google translate, and it gave me “Pas de problème”, but I'm not so sure this is correct. Is it correct? Are there other informal ways of expressing “you're welcome”?

49

There are a few main ways to say "you're welcome" in French:

  • Je vous en prie / Je t'en prie

I feel this is a little more formal than the others, but is the canonical French response to "thank you". In some sense, it can be equivalent to "don't worry about it".

  • Pas de problème

Google translate was right. It is widely used, it's informal and it likely comes from English in the first place.

  • De rien

This phrase likely comes from the Spanish de nada. Rien means "nothing", so it could be somewhat analogous to "don't give it a second thought". But shorter and more informal.

  • Bienvenue

Used in Canada, this is the literal translation of "welcome". In other French-speaking countries, it would likely not be understood. This use of bienvenue is an anglicism; its correct use is mostly one of greeting or of appreciation, like when you say, for example, that relief is welcomed.

  • 5
    If we come to regional languages, let's add one we hear in Lorraine, mainly from older people : Service ! – RomainValeri Jul 13 '12 at 20:49
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    My native language is French and I wouldn't have understood that Romain Valeri. – ApplePie Jul 15 '12 at 11:58
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    Bienvenue would definitely not be understood in that context in France. – Rodrigue Jul 15 '12 at 19:26
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    Pas de problème est, je pense, un anglicisme. – rds Jul 16 '12 at 11:23
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    Service ! is very common in the french part of Switzerland also, and not only from older people... – Yannick Blondeau Jul 18 '12 at 6:27
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Other ways to answer a "Merci" are:

  • "Il n'y a pas de quoi", sometimes abbreviated in "Pas de quoi"
  • around Toulouse: "Avec plaisir"
  • in Belgium: "S'il vous plaît"
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    @rds - I live in Toulouse and Avec plaisir is very common and not formal at all. – mouviciel Jul 16 '12 at 12:09
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    @Otiel - Because friends from other regions find it strange. – mouviciel Jul 17 '12 at 15:41
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    @Otiel : Born and bred in Toulouse and now living north of the Loire I can assure that « avec plaisir » (to be quite accurate /a.ve/ plaisir) is commonly used in Toulouse and sounds strange to northerners even when « avec » is pronouced /a.vɛk/. – Laure SO - Écoute-nous Dec 10 '13 at 10:04
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    In Belgium, we say “S’il vous plaît” when we hand something to someone, so before “merci”, but I’ve never heard “s’il vous plaît” as an answer to merci. – Édouard Dec 10 '13 at 15:06
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    @Max:true story: last year, I was on holiday in Portugal. In a small snack-bar in Sintra, one of the waiters heard we were speaking French, so when he brought the dishes, he answered my "obrigado" with a big smile, a wink and a loud "s'il-vous-plait", which surprised me to hear used in the Belgian fashion. We chatted a bit: he had never studied French in school, but had learned it the hard way by working in a restaurant in... Brussels... – Greg Dec 8 '17 at 6:58
12

The usual answer to “merci” in French is “de rien” which has about the same meaning as “no problem” and translates to “it's nothing”.

9

The most commonly used is probably "De rien".

Slightly more formal is this one : "Je t'en prie / Je vous en prie"

Your "Pas de problème" is used also, and is more casual.

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    I don't think "pas de souci(s?)" nor "pas de problème" are good answers after "merci". I think, they fit better after "excuse-moi". – rds Jul 16 '12 at 11:16
  • @rds I guess that as for many casual idioms, it varies quite a lot between regions. Your logic is right, but following it, this it would also invalidate half of the expressions commonly used to communicate any meaning ;-) Am I really at the mercy (Merci) of anyone who's kind enough to hold the door more than one second ? – RomainValeri Jan 26 '15 at 18:31
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À l'oral, après merci, en France (St Etienne) j'entends souvent répondre Y'a pas d'soucis.

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    I don't think "pas de souci(s?)" nor "pas de problème" are good answers after "merci". I think, they fit better after "excuse-moi". – rds Jul 16 '12 at 11:09
  • @rds Yse and no, in my opinion. Merci means Vous vous êtes géné pour me rendre service, it's sort of excuse-moi, you right. So the response Y'a pas d'soucis is understandable. It's common conversation : Merci / Y'a pas d'soucis / Mais merci quand même / y'a pas d'soucis y'a pas d'soucis je t'assure and so on. Sorry for my english (Y'a pas d'soucis). – Istao Feb 14 '13 at 7:40
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I do use "avec plaisir". I find those one (below) strange even if they are more common. (What follows is just my very personal interpretation).

  1. "Je t'en prie / Je vous en prie" sound a bit arrogant/posh, like: nooo please, it's ok, don't thank me dear, really, no I insist don't, oh dear...
  2. "Il n'y a pas de quoi" looks absurd, as if we needed a scale to thanks somebody. "No it's not enough, you can't thank me. (It sounds also like #1)

  3. "Pas de problème" or "y'a pas de soucis" is the most common, it sounds like: you did not bother me too much, just a little, but it's ok (but you did...)

  4. "De rien": do fit for guys who aren't able to accept things (good or bad) from the others. "You don't own me anything and I don't own you anything, let's stop talking". (It sounds also like #3)

  5. "Bienvenue" sound from quebec (so, funny), but it provides a warm answer, I like it.

Note that french are still very attach to their old formal way of talking: sometime spontaneity and warmth do make the french uncomfortable. But "avec plaisir" works with anybody, even if it sounds spontaneous and shows warmth it also somehow shows some formal "politeness".

  • You seem quite a lot more generous with your last interpretation (to justify avec plaisir) than with any other. If we apply the same (a bit cynical) views on avec plaisir, I can guarantee you that some people will think it sounds hypocritical or some even out-of-place sensual reference... Once again it varies a lot with place and time, so maybe it's sometimes better not to infer too much. – RomainValeri Jan 26 '15 at 18:39
  • @RomainVALERI interesting, I did not think about that! But what you said, the intonation, is working with any word, you could change the meaning of "merci" or even "salut". But those words, even if we forget about it "de rien" have a clear meaning and (in my view) correspond to different psychological profile. – JinSnow Jul 26 '15 at 18:45
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In Northern France, I most frequently hear "Il n'y a pas de quoi", or just "pas de quoi" (more casual).

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From simple : "De rien", to more formal: "Pas de quoi" ou "il n'y a pas de quoi", and more polite: "Je vous en prie", "je t'en prie". "Pas de problème" est plus récent et semble importé du sabir globish...

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