When someone thanks you, you only have a few seconds to answer with the appropriate “you’re welcome”.
This can be very stressful if you don’t know the differences between “de rien”, “je vous en prie” and “ya pas de quoi”.
Is your answer polite enough? Is it too formal? Do French people actually use that phrase?
After reading this article, you’ll know which French equivalent of “you’re welcome” to use in every situation!
The relaxed you’re welcome
Similar to the Spanish “de nada”, “de rien” literally means “of nothing” and is the most common “you’re welcome” in France.
You can use it as a way to say “you’re welcome” when someone spontaneously thanks you for something unimportant.
Beware though, “de rien” is informal and shouldn’t be used in formal situations.
Here is an example conversation from the French Together course to give you an idea. The conversation is available at slow and normal speed.
The slightly formal you’re welcome
“Je t’en prie” is a common yet strange way to say “you’re welcome” in French. It combines “tu” (the informal french “you”) with a rather formal verb and construction.
The result is a “you’re welcome” you can use with people you’re on a “tu” basis with whenever you want to sound slightly formal and classy.
Due to its more formal construction, “je t’en prie” is often considered more serious than “de rien” and is a better choice when someone thanks you for something important.
The formal you are welcome
“Je vous en prie” is the formal version of “je t’en prie” as shown by the use of “vous” (the formal French “you”).
Considered more polite than “de rien” without being overly formal, “je vous en prie” is a great choice for formal situations and in case of doubt.
If you had to learn only one “you’re welcome”, “je vous en prie” would be the obvious choice.
The southern you’re welcome
As a French learner, you may be tempted to literally translate “my pleasure” into “mon plaisir”.
While lots of French expressions are similar to English expressions, this isn’t the case here and “mon plaisir” isn’t something the French would use to say “you’re welcome”.
Instead, use “avec plaisir” (literally: with pleasure) whenever you want to tell someone you were happy to do what you did. If a friend thanks you for helping him move for example.
“Avec plaisir” is one of many French expressions that’s not used the same way everywhere in France and you’re much more likely to hear it used as an equivalent of “de rien” in Toulouse than in other cities and regions.
The complicated you’re welcome
If you thank a seller in a shop, you’re likely to hear “c’est moi qui vous remercie” which literally means “it is I who thanks you”.
You can use this expression if someone thanks you while you think you should be the one thanking them.
This is the equivalent of the English “no thank you“.
The shortened “c’est moi” (it’s me) is actually more common although less formal.
The Canadian you’re welcome
In France, “bienvenue” means “welcome” as in “welcome to France” or “welcome to Paris”.
However, in Québécois French, “bienvenue” is also used to say “you’re welcome”. It’s then used the same way as “de rien”.
The Belgian you’re welcome
The first time I took the Thalys train to Amsterdam, I was confused to hear the Belgian waiter answer “s’il vous plaît” after I said “thank you”.
Why would he answer “please” after I said “thank you”?
I later found out that while “s’il vous plait” only means “please” in France, it also means “you’re welcome” in Belgium.
Il n’y a pas de quoi
Commonly shortened as “ya pas de quoi”, “il n y a pas de quoi”i is an informal way of saying “you’re welcome” in French.
It literally means “nothing to thank for” or “it’s nothing”.
The slang you’re welcome
“Pas de problème” was probably inspired by the English “no problem”. You can use it as an informal way of saying “no worries”.
Some people consider it to be slang though, so make sure you only use it in informal situations.
Over to you
As you can see, there are lots of ways to say “you’re welcome” in French and I know it can be intimidating and confusing.
The best tip I can give you is to choose “je vous en prie” if you aren’t sure. You may sound overly formal but you’ll never run the risk of offending the person who just thanked you.
Have you ever made a mistake when trying to say “you’re welcome” in French? Share your story in the comment section below! I look forward to reading you!