You’ve probably noticed that we Americans tend to say “thank you” a lot.
Whether we’re saying thanks for something small, showing appreciation for someone’s support, or expressing gratitude for a huge favor, you want to find a way to acknowledge our feelings.
Let’s talk about how.
Learn how to respond to “thank you” in American English.
Saying “You’re Welcome” with Natural Stress and Intonation
Here in the United States, we often respond to “thanks” with a simple phrase: You’re welcome.
There’s nothing wrong with this simple saying; it sounds completely natural.
We reduce the word “you’re” to /jər/ and stress the first syllable of welcome, “wel-“: WEL-come.
Because it’s reduced, the vowel in “-come” turns into the schwa sound, /ə/: /ˈwɛlkəm/.
Let’s try it: You’re welcome. /jər ˈwɛlkəm/ You’re welcome.
Be sure to use friendly, sincere intonation when saying “You’re welcome!”
You’re rising to your highest pitch on “wel-“, holding that syllable a little bit longer, and then dropping down on “-come.”: You’re WEL-come. You’re WEL-come.
To sound even more upbeat and sincere, you can hit a higher pitch on “wel-“: You’re welcome! (Be sure to hit and hold that higher pitch on “wel-“!)
Said with a smile, it shows that you were happy to help.
Making “You’re Welcome” Even Stronger with So, Very, and Most
To strengthen this phrase, you can add the word “so”: You’re so welcome.
You can even hold the word “so” a little bit longer and use a higher pitch in order to make it sound even more sincere: You’re soooo welcome. You’re soooo welcome.
Once again, be sure to say it with friendly intonation, or else it may sound sarcastic.
(Watch the video to hear how it sounds when said sarcastically!)
You may also hear people say, “You’re very welcome” or “You’re most welcome,” although both sound a little formal to me.
I tend to use them in writing more than speaking because you don’t have that extra context that intonation provides.
You’re very welcome. You’re most welcome.
Saying “No problem!”, “No prob!”, and “No worries!”
Besides “You’re welcome,” we’re most likely to say “No problem!” when someone thanks us.
Be sure to stress “pro-” — no PROblem — and say that whole phrase with friendly intonation: No problem! No problem!
Once again, to sound even more upbeat and sincere, you can hit a slightly higher pitch on “pro-“: No PROblem, no PROblem!
Flatter intonation may sound sarcastic or annoyed, as if you were frustrated to help.
(Be sure to watch the video to hear the difference in how “No problem” sounds!)
When talking to friends, family, or coworkers who are thanking me for something small, I often say “No prob!”
This is more casual or informal, so make sure you’re using it in the right situations.
Once again, you’ll stress “prob” and use friendly intonation: No PROB! No PROB!
I also say “No worries!” quite often in response to “Thanks.”: No worries!
This is a way of acknowledging that it wasn’t a big deal, so they shouldn’t worry about putting me out: No worries!
As you can hear, the stress is on “wor-“: No WORries. No WORries.
Be sure to rise to the stressed syllable and drop afterwards: No WORries. No WORries.
More Ways to Say “You’re Welcome” in American English
Here are some other ways you can say “You’re welcome”:
- Sure thing! Sure THING!
- Anytime! Anytime!
- Happy to help! Happy to HELP!
- Glad I could help! Glad I could HELP!
- Sure! SURE!
- Of course! Of COURSE!
As you can hear, the intonation I’m using is friendly, upbeat, and positive. It shows the person that you mean what you say.
Try saying them again, paying attention to your intonation: Sure thing! Anytime! Happy to help! Glad I could help! Sure! Of course!
You may also hear people say, “My pleasure” or “The pleasure was mine,” but they sound more British to me.
Another way to say “You’re welcome” that I personally don’t really use is “Much obliged.”
That phrase is a little more British and I’ve also read that it may be used more often in the American South.
For me, that phrase feels a little bit like a tongue twister and it doesn’t come naturally to me, so you probably won’t hear me use “Much obliged.”
More Ways to Show You Were Happy to Help
If you were truly happy to help, you can also use one of the following phrases.
For example: It was the least I could do.
That phrase sounds like you could have done more, so it wasn’t a big deal to contribute the way you did.
Here’s how to stress it: It was the LEAST I could DO. It was the LEAST I could DO.
If you want to emphasize that it wasn’t a big deal, because that’s what friends are for, you can say something like this: I know you’d do the same for me. I KNOW you’d DO the SAME for me.
And if you feel a little bit embarrassed that they’re thanking you, you can say something like: Don’t mention it. DON’T MENtion it.
This reminds the other person that you were happy to help and it wasn’t a big deal.
More Casual Ways to Say “You’re Welcome”
Now let’s talk about a few more casual ways to say “You’re welcome.”
These are most common when you’re interacting with your friends, people in your extended social circle, or people more or less in your same age group.
You really have to pay attention to the context and how comfortable you feel with the other person.
If you feel a little embarrassed that the person is thanking you, you may say something like: Forget about it. ForGET about it.
Perhaps it’s a little hard for you to accept appreciation, so you feel a little shy.
When it comes to using these more casual phrases. I recommend listening to other people and seeing how often they use them.
When you pay more attention to how people use these phrases, you’ll be able to use them more naturally.
Here’s another: I’ve got you. I’ve GOT you.
Because this is used in casual and familiar settings, “I’ve got you” is often pronounced like “I’ve gotchu.”
This expression shows that you would support your friend. You’ve got their back.
Here’s another: It’s all good. It’s ALL good.
In casual speech, this may even be reduced: ‘Sall good! ‘SALL good!
Let’s look at another: No big deal. No BIG deal.
You can hear that the falling intonation is minimizing what the person’s thanking you for.
Please note: If they are really appreciative because you helped them out and it means a lot to them, you may not want to say “It’s no big deal” because it IS a big deal to them.
Shorter versions of “No big deal” are “No biggie” and “No big”: No biggie. No big. No BIGgie. No BIG.
Returning The “Thanks”
If you want to return the thanks because the other person helped you out at the same time, you can say “thank you” with emphasis on the word “you”: Thank YOU. “You” would normally be reduced.
By stressing this word more than normal, you return the feeling of gratitude.
Thank YOU. Thank YOU.
We may also say, “Same to you.” For example: Thank you. Same to YOU. Thank YOU.
(This is the same strategy that we use when turning the question around.)
Add More Variety to “You’re Welcome”
To accept or receive someone’s appreciation or gratitude, you can also add more variety to “you’re welcome.”
It’s very common to use two or maybe three of these expressions in a row.
Let’s try it:
- Thank you. You’re welcome. Happy to help.
- Thanks so much. No prob. I know you’d do the same for me.
- I appreciate your time. No worries. Glad I could help.
If they thank you for something specific, you can add a little more to show appreciation back:
- Thanks for coming. Sure thing. I had a great time.
- Thanks for checking in. No worries. I wanted to make sure you were okay.
When it comes to accepting thanks, simple is best.
Smile, make eye contact, and use friendly intonation.
Why People Don’t Accept “Thanks” Enthusiastically
Last, you’ve probably noticed that some of these expressions minimize the effort or trouble that it was for you.
- It wasn’t a problem for me.
- No need to thank me.
- It was nothing.
Some people do this to avoid you feeling uncomfortable, like you owe them something. It’s cultural!
Personally, I think it’s easier and more polite to be warm and accept the thanks.
Now that you know how to respond to thanks, be sure to review how to show appreciation and express gratitude in English.
Leave a comment and let me know other ways you’ve heard people respond to thanks.