The aim of the article today is to open up your options when it comes to saying “you’re welcome” in French.
Fair warning some of the phrases we will look at will seem pretty strange as we break them down.
The cognates will make sense in an antiquated way but, word-for-word translating should be avoided with any romance language.
The French phrases are a little more intense than our “you’re welcome” composed of grammatically upside-down, ambitious, and deep concepts like “I pray you for it” or “there is no what”.
But relax, we are going to take you through a loose equivalent for each of these etiquette-laced romantic expressions
Before we are done you’ll have a range of ways to say “you’re welcome” in French, and understand what they mean and when to use them.
Ready to add to your French repertoire? Let’s begin!
Saying “You’re Welcome” in French – An Overview
|Je vous en prie||You’re welcome (formal)|
|Je t’en prie||You’re welcome (informal)|
|De rien||It’s nothing|
|C’est rien de tout||It’s nothing|
|Pas de problème||No problem|
|Avec Plaisir||With pleasure|
|Il n’y a pas de quoi||There is no reason [to thank me]|
|C’est moi qui vous remercie||It is I who thanks you|
|Merci a vous||No, thank you!|
|À votre service||At your service|
Ways to say “You’re Welcome” in French
Je vous en prie
The traditionally formal way to say “you’re welcome” in French is to use the phrase “Je vous remercie”.
The literal translation as our intro weirdly hinted is “I pray you for it” which might seem a bizarre thing to say to someone but is a huge mark of respect.
Sure it is antiquated and can trace its roots back to medieval court use. But the French are very traditional, and protective with their language so it has evolved less than some and they still employ these “ye olde” style phrases daily.
This makes it the ideal phrase of choice for the workplace or speaking with authority figures and elders.
Take a look at the following example;
- “Je vous remercie d’avoir accepté la rencontre d’aujourd’hui”
(“Thank you for agreeing to meet today”)
- “Je vous en prie”
Using the “vous” form of the word “you” is considered very polite and therefore correct with people who you don’t personally know.
“Je vous en prie” is the humblest way to convey “you’re welcome” in French and is considered ‘proper’ etiquette in formal situations.
Je t’en prie
If you still want to express the same level of hyper-politeness but are with people that you know and don’t require formality. Then you can exchange the formal pronoun, “vous”, with the informal “tu”.
This gives you “je t’en prie”, which offers the same formal construction as “ je vous en prie” but shows you are addressing someone you hold close to you.
If you are being thanked for a grand gesture or have gone the extra mile or the situation holds deep sentiment then it is the best way to say “you’re welcome”.
Here it is in use;
- “Merci mille fois pour le cadeau!” (“Thanks a million for the gift!”)
- “Je t’en prie” (“You’re welcome”)
You might want to imagine it as “you’re more than welcome”.
When you are with friends and family, the formality is usually left out entirely! The casual way to say you are welcome in French is “de rien”. It is also much easier to memorize and a great first form of “you’re welcome” to learn.
However, it doesn’t apply to every situation so you should still probably try to master the two above as well.
Despite being a very informal way to respond it is the most common way to respond to thanks!
“De rien” is similar to the Spanish phrase “de nada”. It literally means “from nothing” and could be compared to “it is nothing” or “don’t mention it”.
We use those phrases in our own language as a typical response when we want to be courteous and acknowledge the thanks but also downplay our part.
Sometimes a situation doesn’t really call for huge thanks, if it is something you are more than happy to have done then a simple “de rien” might be all you need.
Just be sure you don’t use it with authority or elders, some of the older generations think that to say it is nothing somehow belittles the gratitude or is in some way self-deprecating.
Also, avoid it at all costs in professional settings or meeting with someone important and need to make a good impression.
For friendly favors, compliments, or common basic courtesies like holding the door open and
other small acts of kindness “de rien” is the ideal way to say “you’re welcome” in French.
Here is an example;
- “Quelle belle robe! (“What a beautiful dress!”)
- “Merci!” (Thank you!”)
- “De rien” (“You’re welcome”)
C’est rien du tout
So what if you want to express the same idea as “de rien” but keep it a little more formal?
The proper way, or, some might say longer way to say “it is nothing” quite literally is “C’est rien du tout”.)
This is heard far less frequently but will be understood. You can think of it as “it’s no big deal” and for that reason, it is again no good for professional or formal use.
Pas de problème
How about if you want to reassure a friend that they haven’t burdened you in some way?
Sometimes we can feel obligated to thank someone when they have done something for us, sometimes we feel like we owe them and can’t repay their kindness.
Responding with “you’re welcome isn’t always basic etiquette, nor a frivolity. At times it lets the other person know that they haven’t inconvenienced you in any way and that they don’t need to stress about it!
Pas de problème directly translates to “no problem” and is the perfect way to relieve any pressure in a situation like we have described.
As in English, when we say, “no worries” it can ease the mind of the person you’ve helped. You could even say “no worries” in French with the very similar phrase “pas de soucis” if you want to!
See the following example:
- “Merci pour votre aide” (“Thanks for all your help”)
- “Pas de problème” (“No problem/you’re welcome”)
When it comes to regional French, something you are going to hear casually in place of “you’re welcome in the south” is “Avec Plaisir” that translates literally as “with pleasure” and it is used much like we would say “my pleasure”!
Although the translation for this one is straightforward, be sure to use “avec” (with) and not “mon plaisir”- The direct translation of “my pleasure” would be very out of place.
And remember, while you will definitely encounter this phrase in Toulouse, it might seem unusual in other areas!
But if you are vacationing in Southern France and want to convey that you were happy to help, or enjoyed it even then ”avec plaisir” will make you sound like a local!
Il n’y a pas de quoi
This next one is not so simple. The literal translation is probably going to leave most baffled. So let’s talk you through it…
“Il n’y a pas de quoi” translates to “there is no what” this negatively formed interrogative can be compared to there is no reason or cause. In this case, no cause for thanks.
Although it may seem a bit of a stuffy way to say you’re welcome, it is still fairly common to hear and interchangeable with “de rien” in terms of formality.
Granted it is a little longer than “de rien” so it might be harder ro remember but it is often shortened to “‘y a pas de quoi”.
It causally implies that appreciation for whatever gesture you are thanked for is unnecessary.
Let’s take a look at it in use;
- “Merci pour l’invitation” (“Thanks for the invite”)
- “Il n’y a pas de quoi” (“You’re welcome”)
C’est Moi Qui Vous Remercie
Another far-more-formal-little-less-common way to say “you’re welcome” is “c’est moi qui vous remercie”.
It uses the formal way to say “thank you” within its phrasing, and the literal translation is “It is I who thanks you”.
If you feel like you are being given unnecessary praise it is a good choice. Especially if your gesture was in return for something someone did for you that you value as higher.
Sometimes the ‘wordy’ phrase is shortened with friends to simply “c’est moi”.
Merci à Vous
This next one is similar to the one above, but essentially the less formal version.
It is the literal way to say “thanks to you” and is another casual way that the French say “you’re welcome”.
It is used with some subtle disagreement behind it when someone is thanking you but you feel the thanks are yours to give. A bit like we might say “no, thank you!”
Perhaps someone thanks you for coming to their barbeque, but you are more than stoked that you got the invite as a foreigner in the village, take a look at this example;
- “Merci d’être venu” (“Thanks for coming”)
- “Merci à vous” (no, thank you)
À votre service
If you are headed to Switzerland, then you may hear the expression “à votre service” which much as it sounds means “at your service.”
“Votre” is a formal possessive pronoun, so it is used with those you don’t know. You will likely encounter it within the hospitality industry and by those who are acting in an official capacity.
It is the local swiss way to say “you’re welcome” if someone is simply doing what they deem as their duty.
- “Le dîner était excellent, Merci” (“The dinner was excellent, thank you”)
- “À votre service” (“You’re welcome”)
Lastly, you may already know the word for welcome in French is Bienvenue, you will see it on road signs as you arrive at villages and towns.
But, the French only use the word to welcome someone to a place, it is not a word employed in any way shape, or form to say “you’re welcome”. Except that is, by French Canadians!
As it is more modern and takes on English Americanization Québecois, spoken in Quebec is a law unto its own.
Regionally they will say “bienvenue” not only to say “welcome to my home” but as a hip way to say “you’re welcome.”
A Québécois example;
- “Merci pour le café” (“Thanks for the coffee”)
- “Bienvenue”(“You’re welcome”)
But we must stress that in France saying “bienvenue” in response to “merci” is about as out-of-place as it comes!
You’re Welcome in French – Final Thoughts
So, we leave you with a good mixture of ways to respond to thanks.
Obviously, which you choose is ultimately going to be governed by contextual factors.
Hopefully, our explanation of how to use each will help you determine what is appropriate.
If you are going to simplify your learning for now, then we suggest you take away the most commonly used expressions to say “you’re welcome” in French.
You can get by with “je vous en prie” for formal situations and “de rien” for the more casual ones.
Don’t overthink “je vous en prie”, it may seem excessive or extravagant when compared to our English version. In France formality is important and it is better to be overly polite than offend somebody.