Once you’ve mastered saying please and thank you in French, it’s time to take it up a notch. If you want to learn how to respond when somebody thanks you, then you’ve come to the right place. There are a few ways to say you’re welcome in French depending on the situation and who you’re speaking to, so it’s important to know both the informal and formal phrases.
“De rien” is by far the easiest way to reply to “thank you”. You can’t go wrong really, no matter who you’re talking to or the level of formality. While it’s certainly not the most polite and formal option, it’s not particularly informal either, which is why it’s nearly always a safe bet.
It is sometimes perceived as an informal term due to its brevity, but it actually comes from a far more polite, longer sentence: “Ne me remerciez de rien” which means “Don’t thank me for anything”, or “thank me for nothing”. We could probably say something similar in English, such as “there’s no need to thank me.”
While the commonly used abbreviation “de rien” literally means “for nothing”, it’s better to remember it as “you’re welcome”.
- “Merci beaucoup pour votre aide” – Thank you so much for your help
- “De rien” – You’re welcome
If you want to refresh your memory, don’t forget to take a look at all of the different ways to say thank you in French.
Now we’re going to look at another way to say “you’re welcome” in French which can be used in formal and informal situations – but you must change it accordingly.
“Je vous en prie” is a synonym of “je vous prie de faire quelque chose”. In order to help you understand this sentence, let’s break it down…
You may or may not recognize “prier” as the verb “pray”. This is true, but when we add objects to the sentence its meaning changes:
Prier quelqu’un de faire quelque chose = ask, request or beg somebody to do something
Using the formal pronoun “vous” directs the sentence at someone in a polite manner:
Je vous prie de faire quelque chose = I beg you to do something
And finally, “en” replaces whatever is being asked of someone:
Je vous en prie = I beg you to do it
This sentence can be used in various scenarios, such as giving permission, similar to “go ahead” or “help yourself”, but here we’re going to look at it in the sense “you’re welcome”.
The best way to think about this sentence, is as an abbreviation of the following:
- “je vous en prie, ne me remerciez pas” – I beg you not to thank me (don’t thank me).
That may sound complex, but the key thing to remember here is that it’s the most polite way to say “you’re welcome” in French.
Here are a couple of examples to help you get to grips with je vous en prie:
- “Voici votre diplôme universitaire, félicitations” – Here’s your university diploma, congratulations
- “Merci beaucoup” – Thank you very much
- “Je vous en prie” – You’re welcome
- “J’ai mis le rapport trimestriel sur votre bureau.” – I left the quarterly report on your desk
- “Merci beaucoup Sandra” – Thank you so much Sandra
- “Je vous en prie” – You’re welcome
Its informal counterpart replaces the formal “you” with an informal “tu”. The meaning stays exactly the same, only the object of the sentence, your audience, has changed.
While “vous” is perfect for addressing your boss, a stranger, acquaintance or elderly person, “tu” is used for people you know well, such as a friend or family member or a child.
- “Merci ma chérie, c’est gentil” – Thank you sweetie, that’s kind of you
- “Je t’en prie” – You’re welcome
- “Maman, tu peux me passer mon cartable ?” – Mom, can you pass me my school bag
- “Tiens” – Here you go
- “Merci !” – Thanks
- “Je t’en prie” – You’re welcome
If you want to express that someone doesn’t need to thank you, then you might say “don’t mention it”. In French, it is “il n’y a pas de quoi”.
This is often shortened when speaking to “Y’a pas de quoi”, and both mean “there’s no reason to (thank me).”
- “Merci de m’avoir accompagné aujourd’hui” – Thank you for coming with me today
- “Il n’y a pas de quoi” – Don’t mention it
Another way to say “you’re welcome” in French is the simple “pas de problème”. This is extremely easy to remember because it’s very direct and has an English equivalent: no problem.
This can be said as both a shorter and longer version. The full sentence is “il n’y a pas de problème” which just means “there is no problem”.
- “Merci, j’étais complètement perdu avant que vous m’aidiez !” – Thanks, I was completely lost before you helped me!
- “Pas de problème” – No problem
- “Merci de me prêter tes chaussures, elles sont magnifiques !” – Thanks for lending me your shoes, they’re gorgeous!
- “Pas de problème, prends-les quand tu veux” – No worries, take them whenever you want
This is another quick and easy term to store in your word bank of French vocabulary. We can say “ce n’est rien” in place of “your welcome”, and it means “it’s nothing”. As with most French sentences, it can be shortened when used in spoken language. The shorter version is “c’est rien.”
Don’t forget that shortening sentences like this makes them easier and more natural to pronounce, but they are not grammatically correct, so we must always write the full sentence. In this case, the negation is completely removed in the sentence when spoken, which is a major faux pas in the written French language.
We could translate “c’est rien” to a few different things such as it was nothing, not at all or no bother.
- “Merci infiniment pour vos gentils mots” – Thank you so much for your kind words
- “Ce n’est rien du tout” – It was nothing at all (no bother at all)
- “Les enfants ont adoré leurs cadeaux, merci beaucoup” – The children loved their gifts, thank you so much
- “C’est rien, ça me fait plaisir de les offrir quelque chose” – Not at all, it makes me happy to give them something
In France, the most common way to say “my pleasure” is in fact with pleasure. The French would say “avec plaisir”, particularly in South Western France. If you’ve ever been to La Ville Rose (Toulouse) then you may have heard them say “avec plaisir” more than in other parts of France, but don’t be surprised if you hear it elsewhere too.
- “Merci pour le billet, j’ai hâte pour le concert !” – Thanks for the ticket, I can’t wait for the concert
- “Avec plaisir” – My pleasure
Across the pond in North America, our friends in Quebec have a whole different word that can be used instead of the usual “you’re welcome.” They often use the term “bienvenue”.
Bienvenue usually means “welcome” in French, as in “welcome to France!” (Bienvenue en France !) but in Canada it is a simple response to “thank you”.
- “Merci beaucoup pour le gâteau” – Thank you very much for the cake
- “Bienvenue” – You’re welcome
Don’t forget that this is only used in French-speaking Canada, and if you say “bienvenue” in metropolitan France then it might cause a lot of confusion!
Now you have 8 different ways to say you’re welcome in French, so you can mind your Ps and Qs and impress everybody with your good manners!