The expression "you're welcome" in French: meaning and use

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The expression "you're welcome" in French: meaning and use

The expression "you're welcome" is widely used in French. It allows you to answer politely to someone who thanks you. But be careful, there are some subtleties and things to know to use it well.

Find out everything you need to know about the expression "de rien" in this article and learn how to say it correctly!

How do you say "you're welcome" in English? 🇺🇸

In English, the literal translation of "de rien" is "you're welcome". But like English, which has many other words and expressions to respond to a thank you, this is not the only expression in French. In English, we have the expressions You're welcome, no problem, no worries, sure, my pleasure, and many others.

What do you say to a thank you?

"You're welcome" is a common, informal response used to say that you're not looking to be thanked, that the service rendered is normal, almost harmless. It can be used in a wide variety of situations, so don't take any chances with strangers.

Here's an example of the use of the expression "you're welcome". Imagine you're at the Brussels Tourist Office:

You : Hello, I am looking for a French courses in Brussels.

The lady from the Tourist Office: You bet! Here's a list of certified teachers and group courses.

You : Thanks a lot, that's great!

The lady from the Tourist Office: You're welcome!

4 alternatives to "You're welcome

1. “There is no need to"You can choose these without much questioning, but you can also choose "it's nothing" or "it's nothing". You can choose them without much thought.  

2. “With pleasure"This is a response that is often used in informal contexts or among friends when one wants to express that one has been happy to be of service. 

3. “Please do"is a more formal expression. It is used in more professional situations or when addressing older or unknown people.

4. “It is I who thank you"is a response that can be used to express gratitude to the person who expressed the gratitude.

Is it "de rien" or "derien"?

It's a trap some native French speakers fall into. There's only one way to write this expression and that's "de rien“.

Why do we say you're welcome? Where does this expression come from? 

The expression "de rien" in French comes from the expression "il n'y a pas de quoi". Over time, this expression became shorter and less formal, and was transformed into "de rien". 

The origin of the longer expression comes from the Latin "quid rei" which means "what a thing". This expression has been gradually replaced by "there is no what" over the centuries, until today it has become a common response to a thank you.

However, it is interesting to note that other languages often use different formulations to respond to a thank you.

For example, in English we use "you're welcome" or "don't mention it", while in Spanish we can say "de nada" (which literally means "of nothing") or "con gusto" (which means "with pleasure").

How to pronounce correctly the expression "de rien" in French?

Here's how to pronounce "de rien" correctly in French:

  • "From": Pronounce the "d" sound followed by the "e" sound as in the word "two". The pronunciation is fairly fast and light, with almost no emphasis on the consonant "d".
  • "Nothing." Pronounce the "ri" sound as in the word "river," followed by the "en" sound as in the word "mine." You should emphasize the "r" sound when pronouncing "nothing", with a slight pronunciation of the "i" vowel.

Overall, the pronunciation of "you're welcome" is fast and light, with a light word stress on the "nothing".

Want to know more about the expression you're welcome in French?

Discover the article on the use of "De rien" in French

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