Saying You’re Welcome in French
Depending on the situation, just like in English, you can say “you’re welcome” in response to a “merci” or any of it’s derivatives (merci beaucoup, merci bien, cimer in Verlan) in a number of ways. Here’s a summary:
Literally: Of nothing.
Translation: You’re welcome. Think nothing of it. It’s nothing.
“De rien” is the most widely used form of “You’re welcome” in French. In English “it’s nothing” feels a bit dismissive to me, but it’s important to detach yourself from the literal translation and get used to saying it, with a smile on your face of course!
Je vous en prie/Je t’en prie
Literally: Well it’s got the verb “prier – to pray” in there…so…. I have no idea, I’ll be honest. But these literal translations are just for the geeks like me.
Translation: You’re welcome. I’m pleased to do it.
“Je vous en prie” or “je t’en prie” with friends or in informal situations is said all the time. I’d say “je vous en prie” is used more in restaurants, shops, cafés etc than “de rien” and it feels more polite to me and that it means more.
Important note on pronunciation: Since “en” follows “vous” here, remember the liaison between the s and e so it becomes “je vouz-en prie” when speaking.
Literally: With pleasure.
Translation: You’re welcome, with pleasure.
Sometimes this might even be said with “avec”. It’s straightforward to remember because it’s the direct translation from English. It’s another example of current French being very elegant because you wouldn’t really hear this is in everyday situations in English. Apparently used a lot around Toulouse.
(Il n’y a) pas de soucis
Literally: (There’s) no worries.
Translation: No worries, you’re welcome.
Perhaps this has been introduced thanks to the English “no worries” but it is said all the time. Use it in any situation where you’d use the English equivalent but perhaps use the more formal, aforementioned variations in situations that require it. I feel like “no worries” is extremely casual. Use your common sense.
Pronunciation tip: Given that in spoken situations things are said quickly, French speakers will often blur the gaps between the words. You’re likely to hear it more as “pad soucis”. Good to help you listen out for it. However, when speaking, remember to learn both this short version and the full one.
(Il n’y a) pas de problèmes
Literally: (There’s ) no problem.
Translation: No problem, you’re welcome.
The same as “pas de soucis” really. I put it below because I hear it less often but still very common.
Pronunciation tip #1: see that accent grave over the e? Use this as a guide to remember that the last syllable is stressed. By this I mean it’s emphasised. Pas de prob-lem. In English we tend to pronounce “problem” like “problm”. Really pronounce that “lèmes”.
Pronunciation tip #2: Just like for “pas de soucis”, you’ll hear the words squashed together. “Pad problèmes” or even “pad prolèmes”.
Others from around the web
Il n’y a pas de quoi
Translation: No I haven’t done enough to require thanks.
Sometimes abbreviated to “pas de quoi”, so I imagine it’s pronounced like “pad quoi”. Apparently this is heard often in the north of France but is not exclusive to that region. Living in Montpellier in the south, I’ve never heard it.
Literally: Welcome (as in “welcome to my home”).
Apparently used in Québec, French Canada. It would sound bizarre outside of Canada.
So there you have it. Plenty of ways to add variety to your response to “merci” in French. Do you know any others? Let me know in the comments!